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Newcomers help Miami Hurricanes win baseball doubleheader vs. Rutgers

A steady rain forced the University of Miami baseball team to move its season opener against Rutgers to a doubleheader Saturday.

This is the fifth consecutive season that the Canes begin the season against the Scarlet Knights but the first year since 1994 that Miami begins its season unranked in any of the major polls.

The series marked the debut for many in a Hurricanes’ recruiting class that is ranked ninth in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and 10th by Baseball America.

And Saturday they showed why they deserved the ranking with a 5-4 victory in the bottom of the ninth in Game 1 and a 4-1 victory in seven innings in Game 2.

In Game 1, Miami (2-0) led 3-1 going into the ninth inning, but Rutgers tied it up on an RBI double and single. Canes reliever AJ Salcines overthrew the first baseman on the pickoff, which allowed the Scarlet Knights to score the go-ahead run.

But the Canes battled back and loaded the bases for sophomore pinch hitter Garrett Kennedy. The Davie native hit a walk-off RBI single that was misplayed by left fielder, scoring Chris Barr and Dale Carey.

The new faces on the Canes came out swinging, combining for a total of four of the Canes’ seven hits and three of their four RBI.

Westminster Christian standout David Thompson went 1 for 3 with two RBI, Plantation American Heritage star Brandon Lopez went 2 for 2 with one run scored and Palm Beach State transfer Alexander Hernandez went 1 for 3 with one RBI and one run scored.

In the second game, which was shortened to seven innings, the Canes tallied up four runs on 10 hits.

“I was excited about the way we swung the bat,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “It was a little bit unusual the way the ball was blowing in [Saturday], but the ball was still hit pretty good. But you also have to do the little things.”

Miami’s Javi Salas (1-0) pitched through six innings and held Rutgers to one unearned run. The 6-4, 227-pound right-hander out of Miami Columbus struck out four batters and gave up four hits.

With UM missing two of its top pitchers, senior Eric Whaley and junior Bryan Radziewski, Morris said he is excited to see the other pitchers step up.

“Our one, two pitchers are out right now so we got to see how these guys react to that pressure,” Morris said. “Diaz getting the opening game and Salas knowing we needed to step it up, they did a good job tonight.”

The Canes will conclude the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday.