It had only been a week, yet the No. 20 Miami Hurricanes and the Florida International Panthers were back at it on the diamond — this time on the Canes’ side of Miami.
Scoring less runs this time was Miami (17-8, 10-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), though a late-inning offensive avalanche still kept FIU (9-13, 1-4 Conference USA) at bay while earning the season sweep on Wednesday night.
Freshman third baseman Yohandy Morales capped off a four-run seventh inning with a two-run home run, and UM dominated FIU 8-3 at Mark Light Field for its sixth-straight win.
“We were all putting the ball in play, doing what we could do, make contact,” Morales said. “Before going up to hit, I told [Norberto] Lopez [hitting coach] he [FIU starting pitcher Jermaine Vanheyningen] was going to throw me a changeup and I’m going to hit a home run. So, when I went up to hit, I got the changeup, and I hit a home run.”
Shortstop Dominic Pitelli, another freshman amongst Miami’s veteran infield, hit his first home run as a Hurricane in that same inning. The one-out solo shot set Miami ahead 5-2.
“It definitely means a lot to have my first home run as a Hurricane,” Pitelli said. “I was just trying to put the ball in play, I had an okay first two at-bats — a double play and then a ground out. So, I was just trying to put something in play hard, and then it ended up carrying and leaving the fence.”
With midweek starting pitcher Jake Garland unavailable, Miami head coach Gino DiMare handed 6-foot-3 freshman right-handed pitcher Andrew Walters the ball in his first start of the season. The Eastern Florida State College transfer allowed one hit through two innings, along with no earned runs.
“Garland was unavailable, so none of those guys have been extended and they’re all limited,” DiMare said. “But the fact that you got a weekend series coming up, you don’t want to abuse anybody because you need them for the weekend.”
FIU jumped ahead 2-0 in the fourth inning with a two-run blast to left field from catcher Luis Chavez.
Freshman right-handed reliever Alex McFarlane, who also struck out four batters, picked up his first win, nonetheless.
UM continued to shuffle through its bullpen, involving sophomore Jake Smith, freshmen Alex Munroe and Nicholas Regalado, and junior Spencer Bodanza for the final five innings. The four relievers held FIU to three hits, one of them a solo home run in the eighth frame that belonged to third baseman Dante Girardi, but the Canes still led by five runs.
“I just thought it was a great job by our pitching staff,” DiMare said. “You know, you don’t do that very often where you kind of just put a whole bunch of guys together there, and it ended up working out. And why it ended up working out was because they all threw well. The only hiccup we had really was McFarlane fell behind 2-0 but we pitched really well, all the pitchers.”
With another midweek showdown in their favor, Miami looks ahead to a three-game road series against Pittsburgh (14-10, 9-9 ACC), a team that has also struggled to some degree in ACC play.
DiMare added that freshman starting pitcher Alejandro Rosario, despite having been listed as day-to-day with a right oblique strain, will return to the mound and start on Friday. Rosario garnered a win in his last outing at Virginia.
Freshman starter Victor Mederos will start Saturday, while redshirt sophomore Jordan Dubberly is set for the finale on Sunday.
Miami and Pittsburgh will take the field at Charles L. Cost Field in Pittsburgh at 3 p.m. on Friday.