Just a couple of years ago, the Miami Hurricanes were able to overcome the Florida Gators in Gainesville. Traveling north in its first series of 2021, Miami handed Florida two losses in three games and took the series.
Since that road series, things haven’t been the same for the Hurricanes.
Miami lost for the third straight time to the Gators on Friday night, dropping the first game of the three-game series, 10-4.
“We didn’t have an answer for their offense,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “It seemed like every ball they hit was hard. To me, they were too comfortable at the plate. We have to do a better job of locating pitches. We have to do a better job of getting ahead. The wind was blowing out and they got the ball up in the air.”
Miami did hold the lead early in the game. Thanks to a homer by junior third baseman Yohandy Morales, the ‘Canes took a 3-0 lead in the opening half frame.
Florida didn’t need much time to respond with a big punch of its own. Up against Hurricanes starter Gage Ziehl, the Gators got one run back via a solo home run by Florida native Wyatt Langford.
After Ziehl pitched a scoreless second inning, Florida plated two runs in both the third and fourth innings. In the third, Coastal Carolina transfer BT Riopelle got on base by driving in a runner with a single before scoring himself on a single from outfielder Ty Evans. In the fourth, Langford’s bat hurt Miami again when he doubled to the left-field corner to drive in a run before Tampa, Florida native Jac Caglianone finished the scoring in the inning with an RBI single to center.
Pulled after five innings, Ziehl allowed six runs, all of which were earned. The right-hander walked three batters and struck out eight while allowing nine hits.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-3 Gators starter Brandon Sproat only allowed one more run after the Morales home run in the opening inning. In the top of the sixth, shortstop Dominic Pitelli hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring freshman Blake Cyr.
After six innings, UF led Miami 8-4.
Sproat was relieved by left-handed pitcher Cade Fisher after throwing six innings and allowing four runs on four hits. Sproat finished with four walks but nine strikeouts.
Miami (7-3) was unable to get even one hit off Fisher while the Gators (9-2) poured salt on the Hurricanes’ wound late in the game. In the bottom of the eighth inning, infielder Cade Kurland hit a fly ball 367 feet to left field to score two more runs for Florida.
Kurland’s home run was the last hit for either side the rest of the way through, leading to the final score of 10-4 in favor of the hometown Gators.
Ziehl (1-2) was handed the loss while Sproat (3-0) earned another win to keep him undefeated in his three starts.
Miami will get a chance for vengeance in game two of the series on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The Hurricanes are expected to start right-handed pitcher Karson Ligon, while Florida is likely to have junior Hurston Waldrep take the mound first.