After a slow start, Miami ‘s first game since 2008 as the No. 1 baseball team in the nation turned into what was expected — the Hurricanes’ 10th consecutive win.
Zach Collins went 3 for 4 with two runs scored as the Canes defeated visiting Nova Southeastern 8-3.
“The ranking felt a little weird [Monday],” said Collins, who is hitting .438 and has reached base in 25 straight games. “That No. 2 to No. 1 jump — it feels like you have a crown on your head.”
That figurative crown must have felt heavy early as Miami (26-4) led just 1-0 for the first half of the game against NSU (25-12), ranked No. 18 in Division II.
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But Miami scored six runs in the sixth, including a two-run triple by Willie Abreu that banged off the wall in right-center field.
When asked how many of the NSU players the Miami guys know, Abreu cracked: “Not many; just their whole team. We played with all the kids on that team since we were little.”
Abreu’s blast helped snapped NSU’s 12-game win streak and improved Miami’s record in midweek games this season to 8-0. The Canes will get another such test on Wednesday, when Jesse Lepore starts against visiting Central Florida in a 6 p.m. game.
Tuesday’s game was not on the original schedule. But when Miami had two postponements this past weekend at frigid Notre Dame, Canes coach Jim Morris called NSU counterpart Greg Brown, and the two agreed to play.
“It was a really good idea to get back used to this weather,” Collins said. “It’s a lot better than 30 degrees.”
Miami’s Danny Garcia (5-2, 2.40 ERA) pitched four scoreless innings and earned the win. He was on a work limit – 50 pitches – because he is set to start again on Sunday at Duke.
With the Canes ranked No. 1, questions remain about the roster. Leadoff batter Carl Chester (.391) sets the proverbial table for Collins and others. Closer Bryan Garcia is among the best in the country, and the two-three-four starters — Mike Mediavilla, Garcia and Lepore — have been solid.
But Friday night starter Thomas Woodrey (3-2, 4.89) has been far from dominant, top set-up reliever Cooper Hammond has an arm injury and some hitters, most notably Jacob Heyward at .222, have slumped.
“It’s great to be ranked No. 1,” Morris said. “But what matters is at the end. Our goal is to be a top-eight team and to be in a position to host a regional and a super regional.”
▪ Ryan Alvarez, a UM freshman outfielder from Columbus, singled in the eighth, the first hit of his college career. … Morris said Hammond has been throwing and could return in about a week or two.
▪ No. 25 St. Thomas 8, No. 19 Keiser 3: Oscar Rodriguez and Kendrick Gutierrez each had three hits and hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning to bust open the game for the visiting Bobcats (27-14, 10-5 Sun Conference) over the Seahawks (27-16, 10-6).
▪ No. 7 Nova Southeastern 5, Embry Riddle 0: The Nova women (15-1, 6-0 Sunshine State Conference) swept rival Embry Riddle (7-3) in all singles matches at the Crotty Tennis Complex in Daytona Beach.
For the second consecutive year, the U.S. sailing team Sperry’s Stu McNay, from Providence, Rhode Island, and Dave Hughes, from Miami, finished third at the 2016 470 Class European Championship at Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The pair also qualified for Team USA at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.