With the way Zack Collins is pitched around these days, the All-American has had few opportunities to hit those dingers he mashed his first two seasons with the University of Miami.
But on Wednesday night at Mark Light Field, Collins finally got his pitches.
The left-handed-hitting junior connected with two fastballs for his first two home runs of 2016 to account for three runs and lead the Hurricanes to a 6-2 victory against Florida Gulf Coast.
It was Collins’ fourth career multi-homer game after hitting 15 home runs last season and 11 as a freshman.
“Same approach,” said Collins, who is hitting .364 and has a team-leading 11 walks. “Just trying to hit the ball hard. The wind was blowing a little out today so I got lucky. I wouldn’t say they’re pitching around me. I’d just say they pitch carefully. They’re trying to make their pitches, and I’m just trying to swing at strikes.’’
The Hurricanes (6-2) made it 1-0 with two outs in the first inning on Golden Spikes candidate Collins’ home run to left against Garrett Anderson.
They went ahead 3-2 with two outs and a full count in the fifth on another opposite-field homer by Collins, this time against reliever Parker Hamilton.
In the seventh inning and in his final plate appearance of the night, Collins was intentionally walked with two outs and Carl Chester (career-high three hits) on third after Miami made it 4-2 on an RBI groundout by Chris Barr.
“They weren’t careful enough tonight,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said of the Eagles’ pitchers facing Collins.
Morris said he moved hot-hitting Johnny Ruiz, who came in Wednesday with a team-high .478 batting average, behind Collins in the lineup “to protect” Collins “where he would get possibly better pitches to hit. He’s very, very selective at the plate, as selective as any hitter probably I’ve ever had.’’
The Canes added two in the eighth on Edgar Michelangeli’s double down the left-line line that scored Willie Abreu (walk) and Brandon Lopez (single).
The Eagles scored in the third on a two-run homer by Tyler Selesky.
UM right-handed sophomore Jesse Lepore earned his first career victory Wednesday in his second start, allowing two earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out a career-high seven batters and didn’t walk anybody.
“The game starts with pitching,’’ Morris said, “and Jesse ... pitched very well. It was his best outing as a Hurricane.’’
The bullpen — Frankie Bartow, Cooper Hammond and Bryan Garcia — was stellar, retiring all 10 batters to close the game. Garcia finished off his fourth save of the season by striking out the side.
Hamilton (0-1) took the loss for the Eagles (2-6).
Despite coming off a 2-1 series loss to top-ranked Florida, the Hurricanes maintained their No. 6 ranking by Baseball America. They dropped four spots to No. 10 by D1Baseball.com and one spot to No. 5 by Collegiate Baseball.
The Canes next meet Manhattan College at 7 p.m. Friday in the first game of a weekend set. Left-handed senior Thomas Woodrey (1-1, 5.40 ERA) is expected to start for the Hurricanes on Friday, followed by left-handed sophomore Michael Mediavilla (2-0, 0.82) at 7 p.m. Saturday and left-handed junior Danny Garcia (1-1, 2.19) at 1 p.m. Sunday.