The UM baseball team’s defense, which has plagued coach Jim Morris’ squad in recent years, has been sensational this season in a run of six consecutive victories and 20 wins in the past 21 games.
On Saturday night, the fielding behind Miami pitching returned to its ways of old. The Hurricanes, ranked fourth by Collegiate Baseball and 10th by Baseball America, committed four errors in a 6-5 loss to Alabama State at Alex Rodriguez Park.
“All the things we’ve been doing for the last month to win all these games, we did the opposite [Saturday night],” Morris said. “We weren’t fundamentally sound, we didn’t execute. We’ve been playing great defense and we kicked it around and made four errors.
“We could’ve won the way it was, but we didn’t get a couple of clutch hits. All those things we were doing to win games, we did none of them [Saturday night].”
The four errors were the most the Canes (33-14) have committed since the fourth game of the season, a 5-2 loss to FAU.
Alabama State second baseman and No. 9 hitter Einar Muniz, who stands at 5-5, killed the Canes in every facet. He went 3 for 3 with two runs scored offensively, and he made the final out in the ninth with a nifty sliding catching going to his left and strong throw to get Zack Collins at first.
The Canes were 11-1 in one-run games before dropping the second of a three-game set to Alabama State on Saturday.
Alabama State scored the go-ahead run in the eighth on an error by first baseman Brad Fieger on a grounder that went under his glove.
The Canes were down 5-3 in the seventh when Willie Abreu tied it up with a two-out, two-run single to center. A wild pitch earlier in the at-bat allowed both runners to be in scoring position.
“It felt great to bring my team back into the game, but it’s a team effort and we made a few mistakes that hurt us early on in the ballgame — and also late,” Abreu said. “We have to continue playing solid baseball like we’ve been doing this last half of the season, and we’re going to be OK.”
The Hornets took that 5-3 lead when they scored two unearned runs in the top of the seventh when a slow chopper that shortstop Brandon Lopez was charging with two outs and runners on second and third was misplayed. Officially ruled an infield hit that allowed both runners to score, they were unearned because of a dropped popup earlier in the frame by second baseman Alex Hernandez.
Miami starter Andrew Suarez gave up five runs — three of them earned — and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out seven. A three-run second inning against Suarez put the Canes behind early.
“They’re very aggressive, and they know I like to throw my fastball a lot,” said Suarez, who left with a no-decision and is 4-2 with a 2.64 ERA. “They were just jumping on it and getting good hits.”
Down 3-0 after failing to score a run off Alabama State starter Joseph Camacho through the first five innings, the Canes rallied for three runs to tie the game in the sixth. Ricky Eusebio drove in a run on an infield single, Hernandez drove in Abreu — who doubled earlier in the inning — with a sharp line-drive double off the left-field wall, and Lopez brought home a run on a sacrifice fly.
UM wraps up the series with Alabama State at 1 p.m. Sunday. Bryan Radziewski (4-2, 3.51 ERA) takes the hill for the Hurricanes.