The host Miami Hurricanes tied a season high for runs scored, beating an Ivy League team with a 2-10 record that is known more for books than baseball.
The Canes’ 9-6 win over Columbia University on Tuesday night was expected but could not mask all of Miami’s early-season problems, which include a ninth-place ACC ranking in both batting average and ERA.
Miami (16-7, 2-4) is also tied for last place in the ACC’s Coastal Division and will host league rival Virginia Tech (17-5, 4-2) this weekend.
Among the Canes’ heroes on Tuesday were Chantz Mack, who tied a career high with three RBI, and Alex San Juan and Alex Hernandez, who each drove in two.
They helped the Canes race to an 8-2 lead after two innings as Miami held on from there to improve to 7-1 in midweek games. Its only slip-up in midweek matchups was last week’s 17-6 loss to Illinois State.
Miami will play host to Columbia again on Wednesday. Javi Salas (2-2, 4.94), who had been the Saturday starter, will make the start. Bryan Radziewski (2-0, 0.71), who started the year on the injured list, has worked his way back into the rotation and will start Saturday against Virginia Tech.
“B-Rad has been throwing (well), and that’s how you get back into the weekend rotation,” Canes coach Jim Morris said.
Morris is hoping Radziewski can help reverse a trend that has seen his Canes drop three straight weekend series – to North Carolina, Duke and Florida – winning one game in each set.
Eric Whaley (1-1), who started and got the win Tuesday, may ultimately find his way back to the weekend rotation, too. The senior right-hander had a career record of 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA entering this season. But he had tightness in his pitching shoulder and started the season in the bullpen for three appearances.
“It was nothing too serious,” Whaley said of his shoulder issue.
Still, it was obviously enough for Whaley to take a statistical hit early this season. In five innings Tuesday, he allowed six hits, three runs - two of them earned - and one walk. He struck out five and shrunk his bloated ERA from 12.15 to 8.49.
Could Whaley soon follow Radziewski back into the weekend rotation?
“I have to perform,” he said. “I’m not doing that great of a job right now. The pitchers ahead of me are getting the job done, so … I am where I am.”
Whaley is not the only Hurricane who wants to get back to his previous form. Reliever A.J. Salcines, brilliant last season with a 1.40 ERA, is 2-2 with a 7.62 ERA. Outfielder Dale Carey, who hit .271 last season, is batting .180 after doubling on Tuesday.
And freshman first baseman David Thompson, who has been slumping lately after a hot start, was out of the lineup due to injury Tuesday, sitting for just the second this season.
“He’s a little tight from his shoulder surgery,” said Morris, who added that Thompson will also sit out Wednesday and then see how he feels for the weekend.
Thompson, who entered Tuesday as the team’s leader in RBI (33), doubles (7) and homers (2), was replaced at first by freshman Chris Barr, one of the Canes’ biggest bright spots of late.
Barr has a .348 batting average and a .595 on-base percentage, scoring 14 runs in just 23 at-bats.