CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The Miami Hurricanes began a season-long seven-game home stand with a 6-2 win over the visiting Maine Black Bears at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field on Tuesday night.
Freshman LHP Thomas Woodrey improved to 2-0.
The Hurricanes combined a dominant pitching performance from freshman Thomas Woodrey (2-0) with career-long hitting streaks from freshman Brandon Lopez and junior Brad Fieger to keep their home record unblemished at 9-0.
Miami left-hander Thomas Woodrey put in a career-high eight innings of work, allowing three hits and surrendering one earned run, while striking out two and walking one on 94 pitches with 59 going for strikes.
“I think the key to my success today was pitching to contact,” Woodrey said. “A lot of early in the count hits and my defense did great. I think we had five or six ground balls up the middle. Just letting my defense work for me. Not trying to do too much. Pitching to contact helped.”
Miami head coach Jim Morris said Woodrey’s outing was great, but not completely unexpected.
“Woody’s thrown good. He’s thrown good,” Morris said. “This was his best outing for sure. He’s a left-hander who’s got to locate his breaking balls. He’s getting better. He threw some good sliders today, which was big for him because he’s got to get that breaking ball going. It was a challenge because they had seven left-handed hitters in the lineup, which is what you look for. It’s a great thing if you’re a left-handed pitcher and you walk out there and you see you got eleven lefties in the lineup. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder earned the victory after handing the ball over to the bullpen with a 6-1 lead.
While Woodrey would have liked to pitch the ninth, he said he understands the bigger picture is more important.
“Of course you want to pitch (the ninth), but you got to do what’s best for your arm, what’s best for the team and at that time it was going to a new pitcher.”
Miami put the game away on offense in the seventh inning by scoring four runs after holding a 2-1 lead.
Freshman Ricky Eusebio led-off with a single to leftfield. Eusebio stole second and made it to third on a throwing error by Black Bears catcher Fran Whitten. Eusebio came in to score on a passed ball, the third unearned run of the night scored by the Hurricanes, giving Miami a 3-1 lead.
“Maybe the first time this season we had somebody get on base early and steal bases and score some run so that was big for us,” Morris said.
The walk to Hernandez made it 13 straight games of reaching base for the junior. Freshman Chris Barr came in to pinch hit for freshman David Thompson and drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Following a pitching change, junior Brad Fieger singled through the left side of the infield to score both Hernandez and Mack and raise Miami’s advantage to 5-1.
“In the seventh inning we got some hits, back-to-back,” Morris said. “Made some things happen, they walked some guys and put us in a position to be able to score some runs.”
A fielder’s choice and fly to right had Miami facing two outs with Fieger at third and senior Alex San Juan at fist. Freshman Brandon Lopez connected on a single to right-field, scoring Fieger to put Miami’s final run on the board.
Maine right-hander Mike Connolly went 5.1 innings, scattering four hits and giving up two runs, although none were earned. He struck out five and walked three Miami batters, exiting the game following back-to-back walks to senior Michael Broad and Lopez with two outs.
The Hurricanes put a run on the board in both the second and third innings.
Following senior Alex San Juan reaching third base via an error, a ground out by senior Michael Broad and a passed ball, Lopez plated San Juan on a single down the left-field line in the second inning. The RBI by Lopez, which took a high hop over Maine third baseman Eric White’s head, put the shortstop’s hitting streak at a career-high seven games and gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
“I’m more confident at the plate,” said Lopez, who now has his batting average up to .325. “I’m getting my foot down. My approach is better to the right side. So I got to keep that up.”
In the third inning Eusebio scored on a passed ball with two outs, giving Miami a 2-0 lead. Eusebio doubled to leadoff the frame and took third on a fly-out from junior Alex Hernandez.
“We were lucky,” Morris said. “We were fortunate in the first inning. Lopez got a hit, a bad hop and that was a base hit. The second one was a passed ball where we scored a run. So you got to be lucky and good, but we had some guys on base.”
The Black Bears got on the scoreboard in a fifth inning filled with highlights.
Third baseman Fieger threw out Maine junior Alex Calbick on a bang-bang play for the inning’s first out. The called-out drew the ire of Maine head coach Steve Trimper, who put the game on pause while making his feelings known to first-base umpire Olindo Mattia.
Once play resumed, sophomore Brian Doran tripled to right field. With one-out White hit a fielder’s choice to Lopez, at short, who followed San Juan’s advice and threw to first for the out, allowing Doran to score from third and cutting the deficit in half, 2-1.
Junior Fran Whitten then hit a sharp grounder that forced Hernandez to run to his right and dive to make the snag. Hernandez then leaped up, while spinning, and threw to first to beat Whitten for the third out.
Miami freshman Frank Grandinette produced the final three outs, despite a shaky ninth. Grandinette gave up two singles and a run, before retiring the final Black Bears hitter on a grounder to first.
Miami hosts UCF tomorrow before opening a three game home stand versus ACC opponent Duke this weekend. Woodrey believes this game is good preparation for the conference competition.
“I think today got everyone ready," Woodrey said. "The game stayed pretty close late into the game and that’s how all the ACC games are going to be. It’s good competition. You got to learn to battle deep into the game.”
Notes: Lopez has a career-high seven game hitting streak. ... Hernandez has reached base safely in all 13 games this season. ... Fieger has a career-high 12 game hitting streak. ... LHP Bryan Radziewski (0-0, 0.00) will start Wednesday. “I would hope that we could get three or four innings out of him," Morris said. "We don’t want to extend him too much. We need to get him back in the rotation and get him feeling comfortable. But I wouldn’t think more than three or four innings, so maybe 60 pitches.” ... Morris says it’s a “possibility” that RHP Eric Whaley will pitch tomorrow.