No. 22 Miami entered Friday’s matchup against Dartmouth with the third-most home runs in the country at 15. By the end of the game, the Hurricanes had mashed two more — both three-run shots — to beat the Big Green 9-7 at Mark Light Field for their fifth consecutive victory.
Dartmouth outhit Miami 11-8, but the Hurricanes’ ability to hit for power was the deciding factor.
First baseman CJ Kayfus shined for Miami, going 2-for-3 with a double and three-run homer that put the Hurricanes in front for good. He was tied for a team-high three RBI with catcher Carlos Perez, who also had a three-run homer.
“[Power] should be one of our strengths,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “Guys hit the ball hard, that’s all you can ask … the home run is the best play in the game, so there’s no defense for that play.”
However, in Dartmouth’s first game of the season, the Big Green took an early 4-0 lead in the second inning. Miami proceeded to score nine unanswered runs, but Dartmouth would not go away, scoring three runs in the ninth.
Closer Andrew Walters struck out the potential game-winning run at the plate to seal the win and secure the save.
“It’s good to win the first game of the series,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “We didn’t play good defensively … At the end of the day, we won. We scored enough runs to get it done, and we move on and get ready to play tomorrow.”
Right-handed pitcher Gage Ziehl, one week removed from allowing five runs in two innings to Penn State, made his second start of the season. He notched a career-high nine strikeouts but let Dartmouth take a commanding lead after a four-run second.
However, while Ziehl gave up five hits, four runs and two walks in five innings, he retired the final 10 batters he faced and picked up the win.
That momentum carried over to the bullpen, where the combination of Alejandro Torres, Ronaldo Gallo and Alex Walsh allowed just one hit and no runs in the next three frames.
The Hurricanes struggled offensively early on, mustering just two hits through the initial three innings.
But Perez shifted momentum in the fourth with one crack of the bat — a three-run homer that sailed over the center field wall. Kayfus, who began the inning with a double to right center, scored on the play and gave Miami a 6-4 lead with a three-run homer of his own in the fifth.
Kayfus’ offensive performance was a much-needed boost for the first baseman, who is batting just .286 after hitting .366 last season in the leadoff spot.
“I think it was just staying within myself,” Kayfus said of his play on Friday. “I wouldn’t say I’ve been struggling; I just haven’t been getting lucky with balls to fall. But just staying within myself and knowing they will fall.”
The Hurricanes added to their lead with a three-run seventh. Right fielder Zach Levenson smacked a one-RBI single with the bases loaded, before freshman phenom Blake Cyr brought in two more runs with a single in the next at-bat.
Levenson is batting a team-best .556, with Cyr right behind him at .467.
Dartmouth starting pitcher Trystan Sarcone was tagged with the loss, giving up six runs on five hits in 4.1 innings pitched.
Miami will look to continue its winning streak against Dartmouth on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. at Mark Light Field.