The Miami Hurricanes dropped to 4-2 after a 7-4 loss to the No.2 Florida Gators Saturday night. The Hurricanes have lost every series against Florida since 2014, and will now lose their No.1 ranking heading into next week.
Miami struck first in the second game of the series. In the bottom of the second the Hurricanes got on the board with an Alex Toral home run to left field. After that the Hurricanes bats struggled though, with Miami getting just three hits through five innings.
Florida, on the other hand, made Miami starter Chris McMahon work. In the top of the second Florida loaded the bases with just one out and forced the Hurricanes starter to get two high-leverage strikeouts to get out of the inning.
The Gators finally saw results from their solid offensive approach in the top of the fourth. A lead-off double from Cory Acton started a rally, and after a single put runners on the corners Jordan Butler hit a sac-fly to left that tied the game at one.
UF continued to make McMahon work after that. The Gators had a baserunner every inning from the second to the fifth. The Gators forced McMahon to throw 74 pitches through just five innings, but McMahon battled to work six solid innings for the Hurricanes.
In the bottom of the sixth Miami missed an opportunity to put McMahon in line for the win. A single and a walk from Adrian Del Castillo and Ray Gil respectively put two men on with nobody out. A swinging bunt from JP Gates then advanced both runners to scoring position with one out, but a strikeout from Gabe Rivera put the Hurricanes in danger of missing another opportunity. Florida then walked Alex Toral to face Jared Thomas, who pinch-hit for Tony Jenkins, but the freshman struck out and the inning was over with the ‘Canes missing another run-scoring chance.
Miami finally scored another run in the bottom of the seventh. Tyler Paige led off the inning with a single, but a fielder’s choice from Jordan Lala meant he was out and Lala replaced him at first. Lala stole second as Anthony Vilar struck out, and Florida chose to intentionally walk Adrian Del Castillo to face Ray Gil. Gil drove a full-count single through the middle of the infield, and with the runners moving Lala scored from second and Miami took a 2-1 lead after seven.
In the top of the eighth JP Gates came into pitch for the ‘Canes. Florida looked to tie after a two-base error from Ray Gil put Kirby McMullen in scoring position to start the inning. Cory Acton tried to bunt McMullen over, but JP Gates smartly threw to third and got McMullen out trying to advance. Gates then settled in and struck out Jacob Young for the second out before being replaced by closer Daniel Federman, who struck Nathan Hickey out looking to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth Daniel Federman couldn’t quite come away with the save. A lead-off single from Kris Armstrong gave UF life in the inning, and after a sac-bunt moved him over, a two-out double from Jud Fabian down the left-field line tied the game at two.
Miami got a two-out baserunner in the bottom of the ninth, but again, the Hurricanes couldn’t advance him or score.
The top of the tenth saw Alex McFarlane enter the game for Miami. The freshman left a fastball right in the middle of the plate for Kirby McMullen, and the Florida third baseman deposited it over the left field fence to give the Gators a 3-2 lead. After that, two walks gave Florida two men on with one out, another hit, this time from Kris Armstrong, scored the Gators fourth run of the night. The hits didn’t stop after that, with Josh Rivera hitting an RBI single of his own to make it 5-2. Florida pitcher Ben Specht followed with an RBI single of his own, making it 6-2. The disastrous inning continued when Tyler Paige made an error and UF’s fifth run of the inning scored. Albert Maury finally ended the inning with a strikeout and a flyout, but UF led 7-2 heading to the bottom of the tenth.
The bottom of the tenth saw an attempt at a rally from the Hurricanes. Back-to-back singles gave Miami two runners with nobody out. JP Gates then took third base due to defensive indifference, and Alex Toral roped a liner to center for a sac-fly that made the score 7-3. Isaac Quinones then hit a single that Florida LF Austin Langworthy mishandled, putting two runners in scoring position for Miami. Luis Tuero then grounded out to make the score 7-4. Jordan Lala followed with a walk to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Anthony Vilar. The rally fell short there, with Vilar flying out to left to end the game.
The Hurricanes lost this series because of all the little things. Miami made two errors tonight after having a rough defensive outing last night. The ‘Canes offense will have to figure out how to advance runners, or big series like the one this weekend are going to continue to be hard to win as the season goes on.
Miami will try to salvage a win in this series at 1 p.m. Sunday, and then move on and grow as a team next week ahead of ACC play. Nothing is going to change the fact that this weekend has been a disappointment for the Hurricanes.
Winning Pitcher: Ben Specht (2-0, 2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)
Losing Pitcher: Alex McFarlane (0-1, 0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K)
(Box Score posted when available)
Vs No.2 Florida Game 3
Date & Time: Sunday, February 23, 1:00 P.M. Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Slade Cecconi (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Florida Starter: Not announced
Radio: 790 The Ticket / WVUM 90.5 FM / 990 AM Unanimo Deportes
Television: ACC Network Extra