The Hurricanes faced off against FIU in a two-game midweek series, with both teams taking one game.
As a team in serious need of momentum heading towards the ACC tournament, it would have been considerably more valuable if Miami had won both games.
Game 1: Miami 8 - FIU 7
MIAMI – Sophomore Romy Gonzalez scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning, and Miami held on for an 8-7 win over host FIU Tuesday night at FIU Baseball Stadium.
A back-and-forth affair in front of 1,658 fans saw Miami go ahead in the second, the Panthers tie the game two innings later, FIU take its first lead in the sixth, and the visitors tie it in the seventh.
Miami went ahead for good in the ninth, as a passed ball charged to catcher Zack Soria plated Gonzalez, who walked to open the inning and scored from third on the play.
Sophomore Andrew Cabezas (2-2) picked up the win with two scoreless innings, while sophomore closer Frankie Bartow pitched a scoreless ninth inning to lock down his ninth save of the year.
The Hurricanes and Panthers conclude their regular season series with the fourth and final installment Wednesday, April 26 at Mark Light Field.
The Hurricanes (20-20) jumped out to an early lead, plating four runs in the second off FIU starter Robert Garcia to go ahead 4-0.
Miami strung together three straight two-out hits off Garcia, with the first two coming on RBI singles from senior Joe Gomez and junior James Davison.
After Davison stole second base, senior Randy Batista dropped a single into shallow right that scored both Gomez and Davison. With the hit, Batista successfully reached base for the 19th straight game.
The hosts wasted little time in responding, plating a pair off freshman Evan McKendry on a two-RBI double by Irving Lopez in the second.
FIU (25-17) tied the game in the third inning, first capitalizing on a fielding error by redshirt senior Edgar Michelangeli that scored Soria from second.
Javier Valdes then connected on an RBI single off McKendry to knot the game 4-4.
The Hurricanes regained a 5-4 lead in the fifth on an RBI groundout by freshman Nico Baldor, but FIU responded once again on a sacrifice fly from Valdes in the home half of the frame.
Garcia was tagged for five runs in 4.1 innings. He struck out four batters and walked four across 75 pitches.
McKendry allowed a career-high five runs on a career-high seven hits. He struck out three batters and walked three, throwing 91 pitches in his 4.1 innings.
FIU took its first lead of the game in the sixth on a two-RBI single from JC Escarra off Miami reliever Albert Maury, Jr., putting the hosts ahead 7-5.
But once again, there was a quick response to tie the game – this one by Miami. The Hurricanes loaded the bases on back-to-back singles followed by a bunt that was mishandled by FIU pitcher Dominic LoBrutto (1-2).
On a potential double play ball that would have ended the inning, FIU second baseman Kobe Lopez’s throw got past Escarra at first, plating Baldor and Gonzalez to tie the game, 7-7.
The Hurricanes and Panthers will cap their regular season series Wednesday night at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. First pitch for the regular season finale, slated for broadcast on ACC Network Extra and WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 6 p.m.
Winning Pitcher: Andrew Cabezas (2-2, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2.0 IP)
Losing Pitcher: Dominic LoBrutto (1-2, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 3.0 IP)
Save: Frankie Bartow (9)
Game 2: FIU 5 - Miami 4
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – FIU plated two runs in the top of the ninth to take a late lead and held on Wednesday night, capturing a 5-4 victory over host Miami at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
With Miami leading 4-3 and the Panthers down to their last two outs, FIU strung together back-to-back singles, an RBI groundout and the go-ahead RBI single from JC Escarra off Miami closer Frankie Bartow (1-3).
“It was a disappointing loss,” head coach Jim Morris said. “We were ahead there at the end and we normally win when we're ahead at the end. FIU battled hard, and they did a good job at that.”
An errant throw on the groundout by senior Randy Batista, who was trying to complete a game-ending double play in the ninth, got past a covering Bartow and allowed the tying run to cross the plate.
The blown save was the first of the season for Bartow, who was a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities entering the game, including one Tuesday night at FIU Baseball Stadium.
“He didn't locate. He didn't have the sink to his fastball tonight. That happened to closers, and it's magnified in that situation,” Morris said.
Panthers reliever Michael Agis pitched the final 4.1 innings of the game to earn the win. Agis (1-2) struck out six batters and allowed just three hits across his 54-pitch relief outing.
“We just didn't make plays,” sophomore Romy Gonzalez said. “It's definitely a tough loss. We have to turn the page and get ready for Boston College this weekend.”
Junior righthander Jesse Lepore tossed 5.0 strong innings for Miami, allowing three hits and two runs in a midweek start.
He struck out four batters and walked four before being relieved in the sixth inning after 81 pitches.
“Definitely still not what I think I'm capable of doing,” Lepore said about his start. “I'm just taking it step by step, and using this as a steppingstone to build off of and work hard until the end of the season.”A
The Hurricanes (20-21) offense chased FIU starter Chris Mourelle after 4.2 innings. The Panthers senior issued six walks and scattered three hits, needing 112 pitches to get through the outing.
For the second straight night, Miami jumped out to an early lead. The Hurricanes plated two runs in the opening inning, going ahead 2-0 on an RBI triple from James Davison that scored Batista and an RBI groundout from junior Carl Chester that scored Davison.
With a leadoff walk to open the bottom of the first, Batista successfully reached base for the 20th straight game.
FIU (26-17) got a run back in the third on a solo home run from Escarra off Lepore.
Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, the Panthers looked poised to take the lead when they loaded the bases with no outs on a single and two Miami errors on sacrifice bunt attempts. But Lepore buckled down and limited the damage to just a sacrifice fly, inducing a double play from Escarra to end the inning with the score tied 2-2.
Miami regained the lead in the home half of the fifth. A Batista single and an error by FIU's Christian Coipel on a flyball from Chester put two UM runners on base and set up the scoring opportunity.
Sophomore Romy Gonzalez delivered, knocking a Mourelle pitch into left field for an RBI single to put Miami back on top, 3-2. The single extended Gonzalez' hitting streak to a season long-tying six games.
Mourelle issued a bases-loaded walk to redshirt senior Christopher Bar, pushing Miami's lead to 4-2 and prompting an FIU pitching change with two outs in the fifth.
The Panthers cut the deficit to 4-3 on an RBI double from Javier Valdes in the sixth.
Sophomore Andrew Cabezas delivered another dominant relief after entering in the seventh. He struck out four batters and allowed just one walk, needing 25 pitches to get through two scoreless innings.
The Hurricanes next travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass., for an ACC series with host Boston College from April 28-30. First pitch for the series opener, slated for broadcast on WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Winning Pitcher: Michael Agis (1-2, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 4.1 IP)
Losing Pitcher: Frankie Bartow (Blown Save, 1-3, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0.2 IP)
Next Game: @ Boston College
Friday, April 28, 2:30 P.M Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Jeb Bargfeldt (4-3, 2.32 ERA)
Radio: WVUM 90.5