Miami Opens Season; Sweeps Rutgers

The Miami Hurricanes officially opened the 2012 with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and after a three-game home stand, ‘The U’ remains undefeated.

Friday night’s opener was a 6-2 Canes win. Miami jumped out to an early lead with a two-run third inning, with outfielder Dale Carey driving in Brad Feiger, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Miami picked up three more over the next two and held a 5-0 lead entering the top of the eighth.

Rutgers picked up two and Miami answered with one in the bottom of the eight, before a scoreless top of the ninth put game one to bed and gave starter Eric Erickson his first win since 2010, after being sidelined all last season due to injury. In six innings Erickson gave up four hits, no runs and had seven strikeouts.

Saturday night proved to be more of a nail biter, with Miami and Rutgers needing extra innings to close out a 1-1 tie that lasted twelve innings. The Canes struck first with one in the bottom of the first – a solo shot from Carey over the left field wall – and the Scarlet Knights tied it up in the top of the third. From there, eight scoreless innings.

Eric Whaley got the start for UM and went six innings, striking out seven, allowing two hits and one earned run. Whaley retired ten of the next eleven batters after giving up the run but was eventually replaced by Steven Ewing, who threw three solid innings and AJ Salcines wound up getting the win, pitching the Canes out of a bases loaded jam in the twelfth, facing four batters.

In the bottom of the twelfth, still tied at one apiece, Rony Rodriguez smashed a first-pitch, two-outs, three-run shot, driving in Carey and catcher Peter O’Brien, who reached on a hit pitch and base on balls, respectively, for the 4-1 victory.

Sunday proved to be the O’Brien show, as the first-year Cane drove in his first two home runs at A-Rod Park. O’Brien finished with four hits, three RBI and three runs scored.

Miami took a a 4-1 lead into the top of the third, but Rutgers answered with three and tied the game at four. The Canes responded with a three-run fourth to push the lead back to 7-4. Both teams each got one in the fifth and sixth innings, bringing it to a 9-6 Canes lead. The Scarlet Knights picked up one more in the top of the seventh, but that was it. The teams combined for 23 hits and 16 runs on Sunday, making it the most exciting game of the series offensively.

Bryan Radziewski got the start for Miami but only lasted 3.2 innings, giving up four earned runs, four walks and striking out three. Alexander Fernandez earned the win, despite only going one-third of an inning, while EJ Encinosa earned the save with eleven pitches in the top of the ninth. The Canes also got some help on the mound from Christian Diaz and Adam Sargent, who combined for 1.2 innings of work and two earned runs.

Next up for Miami; a Wednesday night showdown with Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers before a home stand this weekend against Albany.