University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes nearly get no-hit by Gators, lose rubber game

Miami's #4 Johnny Ruiz tags out Florida's #23 Buddy Reed as the University of Miami baseball team plays the University of Florida on Sunday February 28, 2016.
Miami's #4 Johnny Ruiz tags out Florida's #23 Buddy Reed as the University of Miami baseball team plays the University of Florida on Sunday February 28, 2016. For the Miami Herald.

After 3,180 consecutive games — nearly 52 years — with at least one hit, the University of Miami nearly ended that streak Sunday afternoon at Mark Light Field.

Then came the bottom of the ninth.

Carl Chester led off by reaching on an error, Chris Barr’s single over the shortstop’s glove extended the streak to 3,181 games, Jacob Heyward’s single made it two hits for the day and Johnny Ruiz’s bases-clearing double kept the Hurricanes from being shut out.

Nonetheless, the top-ranked Florida Gators, behind a brilliant 6 1/3 innings by 6-5, 220-pound sophomore Alex Faedo, defeated No. 6 Miami 7-3 to win their sixth in the past seven regular-season series.

“We didn’t know about that streak, but I’m glad the streak is still going,” Barr said.

The last time UM was no-hit was on April 18, 1964, by Ken Huebner of Florida Southern in Lakeland.

That was the late, legendary Ron Fraser’s second season as coach in Coral Gables.

The right-handed Faedo, now with a 0.75 ERA, earned his second victory this season by striking out 12 of the 22 Hurricanes he faced in those 6 1/3 innings, pumping his fist nearly every time he walked off the mound. He walked two.

Left-handed junior Kirby Snead struck out another three Canes (5-2) in 1 1/3 innings.

Right-handed junior Shaun Anderson allowed all three runs — two earned — on three hits in the ninth, before Dane Dunning closed out the victory for Florida (7-1).

The Gators combined to strike out 17 Hurricanes, five fewer than UM’s record 22 strikeouts against Florida State in 2000.

UM coach Jim Morris congratulated Florida on a fine weekend.

“You can see why they’re ranked where they’re at,’’ he said. “They’ve got outstanding pitching, and they played well.

“… You’ve got to learn from games like this. We’ve had games early in the season and you’ve got to make early adjustments and try to see what you’ve got to do to get better. Good clubs let you know that. If you play bad people they put no pressure on you and you don’t find out anything.’’

Through four innings and with a 3-0 lead, Faedo, mixing in a mean slider with his fastball, had retired 10 consecutive Hurricanes and struck out a career-high eight.

“Quite possibly the best Sunday starter in college baseball,’’ tweeted Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball.com.

After striking out Romy Gonzalez to end the fifth, he had struck out 10 of the 17 batters he faced. After six, Faedo had his dozen strikeouts — five better than his previous best.

UM used four pitchers, including starter Danny Garcia, who allowed four runs — three earned — on seven hits with two walks.

Florida put pressure on the Canes early with a run in the first and two in the second.

Garcia hit Gators leadoff batter Dalton Guthrie with a full-count pitch. Guthrie advanced on a Buddy Reed single, went to third on a failed pickoff attempt by Garcia and made it 1-0 after scoring on an RBI groundout by JJ Schwarz. The run was unearned.

The Gators added two in the next inning on a single by Jeremy Vasquez, a fielder’s choice, a bunt single by Deacon Liput, a walk by Jonathan India to load the bases and a two-run single by Guthrie to make it 3-0.

Florida added to its lead with one run in the sixth and three more in the seventh, highlighted by Schwarz’s two-run triple.

Miami’s bright spot through most of the season has been the junior Ruiz, who is now hitting .478 with a team-high 11 RBI.

Ruiz, who started the first six games of the season at shortstop, moved to second base on Sunday with the return of Brandon Lopez from a six-game suspension.

“If we had an MVP right now for the first seven games, Johnny Ruiz would be the MVP,’’ Morris said. “He has played very well.’’

Susan Miller Degnan: 305-376-3366, @smillerdegnan

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