The hitting-hungry Hurricanes went into the final game of their opening weekend needing serious offensive help.
They got the quantity, they got the quality and they got the victory.
Led by youngsters and veterans, the Canes highlighted their 11-2 win over Maine with a five-run, five-hit third inning that featured four doubles to carry them to their first series win of 2014 at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Four players — freshmen Willie Abreu, Brad Zunica and Laz Rivera, and redshirt freshman Edgar Michelangeli — smacked their first career hits.
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Meanwhile, Miami’s pitchers continued their superb performances. Sunday it was redshirt sophomore Andy Suarez, who allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 10 of the 21 batters he faced. His fastball topped out at 96 miles an hour.
“They weren’t catching up to my fastballs, so I threw a lot of fastballs and I mixed in sliders because there were a lot of lefties,” Suarez said. “I just worked on keeping the ball low and trusting my defense to do pretty much everything.”
UM’s three starting weekend pitchers combined to allow two of four earned runs during the weekend series. Eight relievers combined to allow the other two. The only pitcher with a loss, Bryan Radziewski on Saturday, has a 0.00 ERA (with two errors that led to runs).
Thomas Woodrey and Danny Garcia came in from the bullpen Sunday, with Woodrey striking out four batters and allowing one hit in two innings, and Garcia retiring six of the seven batters he faced in the last two innings.
And this time it was Maine (1-2), not Miami, with the five errors. The Canes (2-1) had one.
“To come out and play today was really important for everyone’s confidence,” said coach Jim Morris, whose Hurricanes host FAU (2-1 during weekend vs. Notre Dame) on Wednesday and No. 23 Florida (2-1 vs. Maryland) next weekend. “We’re capable of playing that way every day. We talked about scoring early and getting the lead, and our hitters did a very good job.”
Nine Canes registered 12 hits, with Dale Carey, Alex Hernandez and David Thompson getting two apiece. Thompson, who had two errors Saturday in what he called the worst game of his life, belted two doubles.
“It felt real good to finally get a couple of hits out of the way,” Thompson said. “We drove the ball a lot better than the last two games, obviously, and just played a lot more complete game.”
For the freshmen, who came into Sunday 0-17 at the plate, Sunday’s performance was especially gratifying.
Abreu, who chose to attend UM after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds out of Hialeah Mater Academy in the 14th round, ripped the double to left field in the third inning.
“It was pretty surreal,” Abreu said. “I’m not really used to everybody standing up and giving me an ovation. But it was awesome. It was a great feeling being able to see my teammates out there cheering for me and being able to cheer for all the other young guys that got their first hits …
“Everybody was happy.”