University of Miami baseball followers knew left-hander Michael Mediavilla could pitch given his stellar freshman campaign as a setup man out of the bullpen.
Now they know, by the looks of his first career start on Saturday night, that the sophomore Hialeah Mater Academy product can be a reliable weekend starter for the Hurricanes.
Mediavilla struck out seven batters in six scoreless innings — both career highs — giving coach Jim Morris a pleasant birthday present as UM outlasted Rutgers in a 2-0 pitcher’s duel in front of 3,047 onlookers at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
“It felt great just going out there and starting, which has been a dream since I was a kid,” said Mediavilla, who as a freshman posted a 1.94 ERA in a team-leading 37 appearances. “I went in with the same mentality as if I came in out of the bullpen and it worked out great [Saturday].”
The only scare he received was in the third inning when Rutgers No. 3 hitter Milo Freeman belted a delivery with two outs and a man on skying over the left-field wall, but it hooked just left of the foul pole.
“I saw it going and I looked down. I didn’t even want to see if it was fair or foul — leave it up to the umpire,” Mediavilla said. “Then I knew I was leaving pitches over the plate. I just had to start hitting my corners.”
He did. The base runner, Rutgers’ R.J. Devish, was then caught stealing to end that threat, and Mediavilla began a stretch where he faced the minimum in his final four innings as he established his curveball and changeup.
He finished his 88-pitch night where he allowed just three hits and didn’t walk a batter striking out the final two batters he faced for UM (2-0).
Kyle Driscoll, the starter for Rutgers (0-2) was just as tough through four, but Miami got to him in the fifth when Carl Chester drove in freshman third baseman Romy Gonzalez, who led off the inning with a double down the left-field line. Driscoll gave up the one run on five hits and four walks in five innings.
“I thought we played solid. I’d like to see us score a few more runs, though” Morris said.
As satisfying as Mediavilla was in his promotion to Saturday night starter, it appears the role in the bullpen he vacated is finding a reliable replacement.
Freshman right-hander out of Miami TERRA Frankie Bartow pitched a scoreless seventh, stranding a man on third after giving up a hit to lead off the inning. It’s the second consecutive night the freshman provides a quality relief outing after pitching two scoreless innings on Friday.
UM got an insurance run for Garcia in the eighth when Johnny Ruiz, who went 2 for 3, slapped a two-out single between short and third to drive in Zack Collins, who went 1 for 1 Saturday with three walks to reach base each time up.
Former St. Thomas Aquinas football and baseball star Jawuan Harris made the first start of his career as a freshman for Rutgers. He played center field and hit sixth after getting his first collegiate at bat Friday in a pinch-hitting role. Harris went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and made a costly error in center to extend the eighth and lead to the second Miami run.
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▪ Mississippi 7, FIU 4: The No. 24 Rebels (2-0) used a four-run sixth inning to break a tie with FIU and knock off the visiting Panthers (0-2) in the second game of a three-game opening series.
After FIU rallied from down 3-0 to tie the score in the top of the fourth inning, the Rebels got a go-ahead RBI single by Kyle Watson off FIU starter Chris Mourelle (0-1) to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Two batters later with the bases loaded, Will Golsan delivered the key hit to give Ole Miss breathing room.
Golsan lined a double into the left center field gap to clear the bases. Ole Miss led 7-3.
The Panthers did not let an early 3-0 deficit after the first inning discourage them. FIU scored its first run in the top of the second inning courtesy of three walks issued by Ole Miss starter Chad Smith. Eddie Silva had an infield single in between two walks. Kenny Meimerstorf drove in the first FIU run on a bases-loaded walk.