Home was especially sweet for the Hurricanes’ baseball team this season, even by their lofty standards.
Miami scored five runs over the first two innings, Jesse Lepore set a career-high with eight strikeouts, and the Hurricanes finished their home slate with an 8-3 victory over Florida Gulf Coast University.
Brandon Lopez drove in three runs over the first two innings, while Carl Chester and Edgar Michelangeli both collected two hits and scored two runs.
The early run support was enough for Lepore, who delivered a quality start and improved to 8-0 on the season. Lepore did not induce a single ground ball out, as the Eagles (24-27) recorded ten flyouts and eight strikeouts against the sophomore right-hander.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“Late in the game, I thought maybe he was getting a little tired, and that’s when he pitched the best,” Hurricanes head coach Jim Morris said of Lepore. “He’s got eight of our (mid-week) wins, that’s why we’ve got the record we have.”
With the victory, Miami finished the regular season with a 32-6 home record — the team’s most regular-season home wins since 2004.
“It’s always great to play (at home),” outfielder Willie Abreu said. “The fans are always here, 100 percent of the time…we’ve got to give them what they want to see.”
Before the game, Abreu told Morris an important fan was returning to Mark Light Field for Tuesday’s game.
Abreu’s mother Rosy was recognized over the public address system in the second inning and received a standing ovation from Hurricane players and fans. Mrs. Abreu is in the process of recovering from a stroke she suffered last May, and Tuesday marked her first appearance at Mark Light Field this season.
“It was great to see (Abreu’s) mom,” Morris said. “I know it was very emotional for Willie and I’m sure for his mom, too.”
“We were just looking for a good time to do it,” Abreu said of his mother’s season debut. “It was a blessing to see her out here...a lot of people lover her, so it was nice to see.”
Mrs. Abreu’s introduction came during a second-inning pitching change, as the Hurricanes had the bases loaded with nobody out. After the ovation, Miami cleared the bases, as Zack Collins’ walk forced in Randy Batista and groundouts from Lopez and Johnny Ruiz plated Jacob Heyward and Michelangelli.
The fourth-ranked Hurricanes (40-9, 19-6 ACC) have already clinched the ACC Coastal division title and head to Tallahassee to face the 14th-ranked Seminoles in their final regular-season series. Miami is currently projected to return home and host a regional at Mark Light Field, which could mean more appearances for Mrs. Abreu.
“She’s been improving, little by little every day,” Abreu said. “We’re just going to continue to play it day-by-day and hopefully we can get her out here again.”
Barry University’s No. 6-ranked men’s golf team shot even par in the first round of the NCAA Division II National Championships at Denver’s Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, and are fourth with two rounds remaining in stroke play.
The Buccaneers made 15 birdies, including a 50-footer by freshman Jack Allard on the 176-yard, par-3 eighth, on their way to a 288. Barry’s other freshman, Niclas Weiland, had six birdies in his 3-under 69 opening round. He is tied for fifth. Allard is tied for 17th after shooting 1-under behind four birdies.
Saint Leo shot 10-under 278 to take a four-stroke lead over Chico State and Florida Southern. Central Oklahoma and Wilmington are tied for fifth, a stroke behind the Bucs in the 20-team championship event. The top eight teams after Thursday’s third round of stroke play advance to match play beginning Friday on the 7,327-yard course.
The Bucs’ second round begins Wednesday with a 9:30 a.m. tee time.
▪ St. Thomas 2, Middle Georgia State 1: Oscar Aguirre hit a game-winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and Alex Viera pitched 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief as No. 3 seed St. Thomas (36-20) defeated No. 2 seed Middle Georgia State (39-17) 2-1 at the opening round of the NAIA Baseball National Championship at Kingsport, Tennessee. St. Thomas will play the winner of Tuesday night’s game between No. 1 seed Tennessee Wesleyan and No. 5 seed Rio Grande (Ohio) on Wednesday.
The winner of five-team, double-elimination tournament advances to the Avista-NAIA World Series to be held in Lewiston, Idaho.
TRACK AND FIELD
Nova Southeastern University women’s track and field team members, Shakira Bartley, Sherrelle Jordan, Shannon Rolle and Ciona Williams will compete in the NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships, May 26-28 in Bradenton.