University of Miami

Zack Collins’ three-run blast helps Miami Hurricanes cruise to win over Florida Gators

A day after losing in freezing temperatures, Miami’s bats heated up in warmer weather, evening a pivotal series at Florida with a 7-2 victory on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium.

The eighth-ranked Hurricanes (5-2) handed the No.6 Gators (5-1) their first loss of the season, fueled by a solid outing from Thomas Woodrey and a three-run home run by sophomore catcher Zack Collins.

“It’s a huge win,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “We got a great outing from Woody. Zack had a big day, getting his home run. It’s a big win for us, and now we need to come out with our head up and ready to go [Sunday] and win the series.”

Woodrey, a junior, earned the win and improved to 2-0 on the season, tossing 62/3 sharp innings.

The soft-tossing southpaw cruised for much of the night, scattering five hits and allowing just one earned run with solid defense played behind him.

“The run support early in the game was huge,” Woodrey said.

“I’m not really a strikeout pitcher and having the big lead really allowed me to just throw strikes and let my defense make plays for me.”

The Canes got on the scoreboard immediately, frustrating Florida lefty AJ Puk in the second inning. UM plated a run in the second and two more in the third (including an RBI double by third baseman David Thompson) before the sophomore’s outing was cut short.

Puk had shaky command, allowing three runs on four hits. The lefty walked two, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch, taking the loss.

Puk gave way to junior righty Aaron Rhodes, who struck out his first four batters before surrendering a triple to Canes freshman outfielder Carl Chester, a walk and Collins’ moon-shot home run into the right-field bullpen.

The Gators tried to jump-start a rally in the bottom half of the fourth, but Woodrey worked around an error and limited the damage to a single run.

Florida added a run in the sixth on a solo homer by freshman catcher JJ Schwartz, his third round-tripper on the season.

The rubber game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

this and that

▪ UM, losers of 18 of its past 23 games against Florida, has a chance to win just its second series against UF since 2008.

▪ Chester and outfielder Ricky Eusebio extended their hitting streaks to seven games.