Coral Gables Regional: Miami 6, FIU 2

Andrew Suarez lasted seven innings for Miami, Cooper Hammond closed it out and the Hurricanes’ capitalized on some early Florida International errors, jumping out to a six-run lead after two and holding on for the, 6-2 win over the Golden Panthers on Friday night for a sold-out crowd at the Coral Gables Regional.

Miami picked up six hits on the day, while Florida International was good for seven, but stranded four on base, while the Canes left five out there. The biggest different on the box score; a 3-0 disadvantage error-wise as the Golden Panthers were mistake-prone in the opening innings.

George Iskenderian was responsible for a fielder’s choice RBI, putting the Canes on the board early and David Thompson added to the eventual-four run first inning with a two-RBI double down the left field line.

FIU right-hander Andres Nunez walked Garrett Kennedy and hit Brandon Lopez with a pitch, loading the bases for Willie Abreu, who grounded out but drove in a run.

In the second inning a sacrifice fly from Iskenderian and RBI single from Thompson pushed Miami’s lead to, 6-0 after two. Iskenderian was responsible for two RBI on the day, though hitless, while Thompson was a three-hit, three-RBI outing.

Nunez eventually settled down for FIU, lasting 6.1 innings, giving up six hits and six runs, striking out four while Suarez give up seven hits and two runs and striking out five in seven innings.

For Miami, the quick start, capitalizing on FIU mistakes and feeding off the capacity crowd proved to be the difference-maker. As Nunez settled in, the Canes’ bats cooled off—with a recently-hot Miami offense scoreless over the final seven innings.

The Panthers wound up outhitting the Canes, but weren’t able to climb out of their early hole, scoring their first run in the top of the eighth.

It was hardly Miami’s strongest outing of the year, but for those who have followed this team all season, this one had the vibe and energy of those mid-week games against in-state rivals who brought their best.

Florida Atlantic handed Miami it’s first loss of the season mid-February, while Florida Gulf Coast knocked off the Canes, 8-1 late-March. Soon after, FAU took UM to extra innings before Miami pulled off the, 4-3 win and the following week, the Canes outlasted Central Florida in a spirited, 4-2- victory.

The victory sets up a Saturday night winner’s bracket showdown against third-seeded Columbia, putting Miami in the driver’s seat if it can go 2-0 at home; one win away from hosting a Super Regional next weekend against the winner of the Dallas Regional.