University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes baseball wins season opener against Maine in a walk

It didn’t take long for the Miami Hurricanes to assert their dominance at the plate Friday in the season opener at Alex Rodriguez Park — bases-on-balls dominance.

Except for a second-inning blast over the left field fence by senior Tyler Palmer, the Hurricanes failed to exhibit the type of power against Maine that fans had awaited after some big-hitting, talented freshmen chose UM over the major-league teams that drafted them.

But Miami nonetheless scored four runs in the first inning on four bases-loaded walks by America East Conference pitcher of the Year Tommy Lawrence, helping to secure a 6-3 victory in front of 2,914 fans.

“Opening night, it’s a big win for us,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said. “We played five freshmen and got some guys in there who got their opportunity to get their feet wet.’’

UM won its seventh consecutive season opener. The last time the Hurricanes lost to start the season was in 2007 against Mercer.

Left-handed junior Chris Diaz lasted five innings to earn the victory, allowing one earned run on six hits and three walks. He struck out seven.

“It’s always nice to start off with a team win, especially on opening night,’’ Diaz said. “I could have done a little better. I could have gone after hitters. I walked three guys and [had] some tough breaks … but I’m just ready to come back next week.’’

Lawrence gave up five earned runs on four hits and six walks in five innings for the loss.

UM’s relievers: freshmen Cooper Hammond and Danny Garcia and sophomore Thomas Woodrey, before senior A.J. Salcines struck out the final batter with a runner on first and two outs in the ninth inning. The bullpen combined for seven strikeouts in four innings and did not allow a walk.

The game was anything but exciting, but the Canes had to be satisfied to win, as opposed to several of their Atlantic Coast Conference cohorts. Top-ranked Virginia lost to Kentucky, No. 13 Clemson lost to Eastern Michigan, Virginia Tech lost to The Citadel and Boston College lost to Nevada.

Miami came into its opener ranked 13th by Collegiate Baseball, 16th by Baseball America and 17th in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

Maine, America East regular-season champions in 2013 with a 37-22 record, scored in the second inning on singles by Brian Doran and Scott Heath, a walk by Jonathan Salcedo and an infield ground-out by Skylar Mercado.

The Black Bears scored twice in the seventh on three consecutive singles and an attempted pickoff by Garcia. Garcia’s throw soared over second base into center field, scoring Colin Gay to make it 5-3.

The Hurricanes scattered six hits through seven innings — five of them singles (two by Dale Carey, and one apiece by Palmer, Alex Hernandez and Ricky Eusebio) — until Palmer drove home Johnny Ruiz with an eighth-inning single, his third hit of the night, for the eventual 6-3 victory.

“It was a good game overall by us,’’ said Palmer, who was three for four at the plate, with two runs scored and two RBI. “I’ve been hitting the ball well. I just took advantage of some of the counts I had. He had a 1-1 count when I hit the home run. He missed with the slider and came back with a fastball and I just got a good pitch to hit.

“Good win.”

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