CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The Miami Hurricanes improved to 2-0 in their 2013 campaign, following a 4-1 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the nightcap of a double header in which temperatures dipped into the 60s.
Javi Salas pitched six innings allowing one unearned run on Saturday night.
The win was the second on the day for Miami following a 5-4 decision in the afternoon.
The fireworks got going early in this one as both the Rutgers defense and Miami offense had some highlights in the first inning.
Following a leadoff single from senior right-fielder Tyler Palmer, Scarlet Knights senior catcher Jeff Melillo threw out Palmer as he tried stealing second. Next it was junior second baseman Alex Hernandez’s turn to steal second, following a walk.
Same Melillo. Same result.
“We kind of ran ourselves out of a big inning," said Miami head coach Jim Morris. "The fact is we got to try to put pressure, we’re not a power team. We got to try to run and do some things,”
With two outs in the bottom of the first, it was Miami’s turn to take the spotlight as they struck for three consecutive extra base hits. Senior right-fielder Chantz Mack got things going with a ground rule double to right center. Freshman first baseman David Thompson followed that up with a double of his own, this one down the left-field line to score Mack and give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
Thompson, who had two RBI’s in the first game, was happy to start the season on a high note.
Dale Carey's triple in the first gave UM a 2-0 lead.
“I was nervous at first. It’s what I’ve dreamt of my whole life, growing up in Miami watching the Canes play and it’s a real blessing to come out and play with these guys," Thompson said.
With Thompson on second, junior centerfielder Dale Carey took a 1-1 pitch to the wall in right center to plate Thompson and give Miami a 2-0 lead.
Salas’ counterpart, senior right-hander Tyler Gebler, went five innings for Rutgers, giving up eight hits and three earned runs to go along with three strikeouts and two walks.
“We take no excuses," Salas said. "Right now it’s just the next guy up and when you’re called to do your job you got to do your job. We all play the same game and we really miss B-Rad and Whaley and they’re going to be a big part of our team when they’re healthy and back. For right now we just all take the mentality that our pitching staff, we’re a little bit down. But we’re not going to make that an excuse.”
Salas had it going early, retiring the first eight batters, three as a result of strikeouts and three from groundouts, before giving up back-to-back singles to Vinny Zarrillo and Pat Sweeney. After hitting Nick Favatella to load the bases, Salas got Brian O’Grady to groundout to end the threat.
“I felt great," Salas said. "Especially when it’s cold like that. I’m a guy who likes to pitch inside. I felt a good advantage. I was just throwing my fastball a lot and letting guys hit it into the ground. I put myself in some jams, but my defense was really great behind me tonight and that’s an awesome feeling when you can trust the 9 guys behind you.”
In the fifth inning, Rutgers got things going following a double down the right field line by Zarrillo. The hit was the fourth and final one on the night for Rutgers. A sacrifice bunt from Sweeney moved Zarrillo to third, before he scored an unearned run on a passed ball from sophomore catcher Garrett Kennedy, cutting the score to 2-1.
The Hurricanes answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the 5th. Following a leadoff double from Hernandez, Mack moved Hernandez to third on a groundout to second. Thompson plated Hernandez, for his 4th RBI of the season, with a well-placed groundout to third and gave the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead.
“It felt good," Thompson said. "It felt good to produce a little bit and hopefully keep driving in some more runs(as the season progresses)."
After Salas kept the Scarlet Knights off the board in the sixth Miami added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, following a pitching change for Rutgers. Jon Young replaced Gebler and gave up a double to left center to Alex San Juan, his second hit of the game and first career multi-hit game. After a wild pitch advanced San Juan to third, Fieger scored San Juan on a flyout to right and produced the final score 4-1.
Despite two errors in the first game Morris was pleased with the Hurricanes fielding in the second game, not committing an error.
“I was happy about the defense because we ended the season last year with a nightmare on defense," Morris said.
Miami lefty freshman Thomas Woodrey came in for his first career appearance, facing four batters before recording the save, the final out coming off a grounder to Fieger at third.
“It was great watching Woodrey throw that one inning," Morris said. "You’re a rookie and the game is on the line. It’s your first time in college. It’s good to see him throw strikes and challenge the guys and make them swing the bat.”
Is there a better feeling than winning the first two on Opening Day? Morris doesn’t think so.
“It was a good day for us," Morris said. "You win two, it can’t get much better than that.”