Dale Carey had the most important hit of the day, Ricky Eusebio was the defensive hero, and closer A.J. Salcines got in and out of a ninth-inning jam to lead the University of Miami to a 7-6 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon.
The Canes (7-0) swept the three-game series against the Panthers (2-5).
The Canes play host to NAIA school St. Thomas on Tuesday and Division II Barry on Wednesday before facing their first national power of the season — the Florida Gators, in Gainesville, for three games next weekend.
Canes coach Jim Morris said ace starters Eric Whaley and Bryan Radziewski, who have yet to pitch this season, might throw one or two innings in the games against St. Thomas and/or Barry.
On Sunday, the Canes trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth and had managed just two hits against Milwaukee starter Eric King.
But Brad Fieger hit a run-scoring double off of King, and Michael Broad added a two-run single off reliever Jake Long to tie the score. Carey, who was hitting just .190 at the time, then capped the decisive five-run sixth with a two-run homer to left.
All the RBI came with two outs.
“I saw that [Long] doubled up on sliders to Broad,” Carey said. “It was a slow, looping slider. I saw that he threw a slider to me for a strike, and I thought he was going to double up on [that pitch]. So I just sat slider the rest of the at-bat.”
Sure enough, after two consecutive fastballs, Carey got the slider he was looking for and took it deep for the Canes’ second homer of the season. Freshman first baseman David Thompson, who leads the team with 13 RBI, has the other one, hit last week against Florida Atlantic.
Eusebio, a freshman who made his first start as a Hurricane, went 0 for 4, but was just as vital to the Canes’ cause as Carey, making a diving catch in shallow left field and another one up against the wall that saved at least two runs earlier in the game.
“We take pride in our defense here,” said Eusebio, who is from Gulliver Prep. “[Assistant coach] Gino [DiMare] is always on us to make plays for our pitchers.”
All that set the stage for Salcines, who entered the game with a team-high 4.91 ERA and proceeded to get himself into a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth inning. Salcines hit a batter to start the ninth and then allowed a double that one-hopped over the wall in right-center. Carey got banged up when he ran into the wall.
“I just got the wind knocked out of me,” said Carey, who stayed in the game.
After one run scored on an error by second baseman Alex Hernandez, Salcines got two fly outs to right field — one was a sacrifice fly — and a game-ending grounder right at freshman shortstop Brandon Lopez. It was Salcines’ first save this year.
“I’m proud of our guys for the way we came back,” Morris said. “That showed a lot of character.”