Long ball, strong pitching lift Canes over Stetson

After a rough weekend that saw Miami lose its second ACC series of the season and its best hitter, Peter O’Brien, to a broken wrist, the 12th-ranked Hurricanes responded with a 3-2 victory over Stetson.

O’Brien is out two to three weeks with a hairline fracture after being hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday against Virginia Tech, and his bat will be missed.

“The good news is … I looked at his wrist yesterday after the doctor saw it. He had no discoloration on his wrist, no bruising and very little swelling,” coach Jim Morris said. “It’s a very small crack.”

Even in O’Brien’s absence, there was a game to be played Wednesday night, and midweek starter Javi Salas pitched well, going 6 1/3 innings for Miami, allowing two runs – one earned – along with seven hits. He struck out five and did not give up a walk.

Salas improved to 4-2 on the season. He has stepped up after Bryan Radziewski went down for the year with a shoulder injury.

In the top of the fourth inning, Jarred Mederos booted a routine ground ball off the bat of Robert Crews.  The freshman second baseman was able to keep it in front of him, but by the time he threw over to first, Crews had beaten the throw by a half step.

Sam Kimmel reached on an infield single, and Ben Carhart then grounded into what should have been a double play, but Mederos couldn’t get the ball cleanly out of his glove. Only one out was recorded and Carhart reached first on a fielder’s choice, while Crews advanced to third.

Salas got Mark Jones to pop up for the second out of the inning, but Mitchel Brennan hit a hard ground ball that Mederos also couldn’t handle. It was ruled a base hit, and Crews came in to score the game’s first run.

Mederos made up for his fielding blunders in the bottom of the fifth inning. Batting from the right side with no one out and no one on, he crushed a home run over the right field scoreboard to tie the game at 1-1.

“I needed that, especially after I made those couple of errors,” Mederos said. “That got my pitcher down a run and I went up there aggressive, got a good pitch to hit.”

Miami took its first lead when Esteban Tresgallo scored on Tyler Palmer’s RBI single later in the fifth.

Stetson evened the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one out when Mitchell Brennan hit a sacrifice fly. The game didn’t stay tied for long, however. On the very first pitch in the bottom half of the inning, Stephen Perez, batting from the left side, hit an opposite field home run just over the jumping reach of the right fielder, Brennan.

“I got a fastball away, I was being aggressive. That was the pitch I was sitting on and I got a good piece of the bat on it,” Perez said of the solo shot, which would end up being the difference in the game.

Miami (25-11, 12-6 ACC) can now focus on possibly the most important series remaining on its regular-season schedule, against arguably its biggest rival.  The Hurricanes will travel to Tallahasee to play the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles in what likely will determine whether Miami hosts a postseason regional.

“It’s always been a huge series,” Morris said. “Traditionally for the last 40 years the Florida State series has been the biggest series of our schedule. Both programs. I think I can speak for both programs to say that.”