The Hurricanes dropped game 1 of a 3-game series vs the Florida Gators 1-0 in Gainesville. Miami will look to bounce-back tomorrow in game 2 of the series.
The game started with both pitchers establishing a rhythm, and both retired the opposite side with relative ease. Jesse Lepore was challenged in the bottom of the second for the first time, when Deacon Liput smacked a triple into centerfield over the head of Carl Chester, however nothing was earned out of the hit, and Jesse Lepore made several key pitches throughout the inning to escape.
However in the third inning, Jesse Lepore made his only mistake of the night, allowing a walk that quickly turned into runners on the corners with only one out. Florida drove in the run on a Johnathan India single, and the game was 1-0. Lepore managed to escape the inning with only one run given up after a key strikeout, and a popout to Michael Burns.
Things appeared to get better for Miami in the top of the fifth, when Edgar Michelangeli hit a double to the rightfield corner, unfortunately nothing came of Miami’s first hit of the game, and Gators’ pitcher Alex Faedo continued his dominance.
Florida appeared to have an opportunity in the top of the sixth when they had runners on the corners with two outs, but Jesse Lepore made a big pitch at the right time once again and forced a groundout to end the inning.
After the sixth Jesse Lepore was replaced with Albert Maury Jr. Maury quickly retired the Gators in the bottom of the 7th inning, and the pitchers duel continued. In the eighth Maury had men on first and second with two outs, and quickly quited another opportunity for UF to score.
This put Miami down to their final three outs in the top of the ninth, and the Hurricanes tried to complete the late rally. After the first two batters were retired, Michael Burns reached first on a booted ball by the shortstop. Johnny Ruiz then came to the plate and put in a stellar at-bat against the still pitching Alex Faedo. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Ruiz walloped a ball that had the distance for a homerun, but hooked far foul, Ruiz then stayed alive and eventually drew a walk. After the walk Alex Faedo was finally removed from the game at around 119 pitches, Faedo had a tremendous performance. Frank Rubio then entered the game to try and save it for the Gators, and he did just that, striking out Romy Gonzalez to end the game.
This was a very unfortunate game to lose, Jesse Lepore put in a great performance in a hometown setting (Lepore went to high school in nearby Ocala, and many friends and family from Ocala drove to Gainesville to the game to support him, including yours truly), and the offense could not get it done behind him.
What a tough way for Jesse Lepore to get his first collegiate loss. Battled all night. Made big pitches. Gave up 1 when Canes scored 0.— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) February 25, 2017
Alex Faedo’s performance for the Gators can not be understated, as he shut down the Hurricanes, allowing only two hits and one walk on the night. It appeared as if the Hurricanes got away from the small-ball mantra that will be the primary form of production on offense for the Hurricanes this season. UM also had a problem with swing selection, often batters were swinging at pitches well out of the strike zone, and taking pitches that were clear strikes and pitches to hit. This was partially due to Faedo’s strong pitching, but the Hurricanes clearly struggled with plate vision tonight, and if the team continues to do this they will struggle to create offense against strong pitchers, as getting behind in the count is no way to produce offense. Hopefully the Hurricanes can fix this and beat the dreaded Gators tomorrow, but tip of the cap to both Jesse Lepore and Alex Faedo for their performances tonight, it was truly a great game.
Winning Pitcher: Alex Faedo (1-0, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 8.2 IP)
Losing Pitcher: Jesse Lepore (1-1, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 6.0 IP)
Save: Frank Rubio (1)
Tomorrow, 6:30 Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Jeb Bargfeldt (1-0)
Radio: WVUM 90.5
Television: SEC Network+