Bats pop for Miami en route to 3-0 opening weekend

Freshman infielder Daniel Cuvet hits a home run in the bottom of the second inning against the Highlanders at Mark Light Field on Feb. 17, 2024. Photo credit: Trevor Castleman

J.D. Arteaga started his first three games as the ‘Canes new head coach with three wins. Here’s what happened as Miami swept the opening weekend against NJIT.

The season started in dramatic fashion, with Miami blowing a five-run lead through three innings. After being knotted up at seven apiece, Carlos Perez walked off the game with an RBI single. A doubleheader Saturday featured two dominant performances from Miami, as it took care of business, 19-1 and 16-0. The final game of the series was canceled due to inclement weather.

Here are three takeaways from UM’s opening series sweep.

The Newcomers

The biggest question mark heading into the 2024 Miami season was how the 20 newcomers would be implemented into the team, and through three contests, a plethora of new guys stepped up.

Wake Forest transfer Lucas Costello got comfortable batting in the two spot, going 4-for-9 and making some nice defensive plays. The well-experienced Tampa transfer, J.D. Urso, proved to be a consistent fielder, and third baseman Daniel Cuvet was the player of the weekend, going 9-for-13.

The new Miami pitchers got settled in quickly. Miami Dade transfer Henrick Hernandez started on Sunday evening and pitched a magnificent six innings, which included no hits and 10 strikeouts. Seven new players came in from the bullpen for Miami throughout the series, and zero runs were let in.

The Replacements

Two of Miami’s best players from last season’s squad, third baseman Yohandy Morales and first baseman C.J. Kayfus, are no longer with the club. Their replacements, however, came out the gate swinging.

The freshman Cuvet looks to be a star in the making, as he hit two deep home runs and drove in seven runs throughout the weekend.

New first baseman Jason Torres hit a .472 batting average in 18 games as a freshman last season. The right-handed hitter finished his weekend with two home runs, eight RBI’s and two doubles.

If Miami can be confident with its guys on both corners going forward, the team can produce another elite offense this season.

Bullpen Near Perfect

The Miami bullpen was the strong point throughout the entire weekend.

After game one starter Gage Ziehl gave up seven earned runs through four and ⅔ innings, the bullpen was called upon to step up but never wavered.

A group consisting of Julian Hernandez, Chris Scinta, Nick Robert and Drew Dwyer closed out game one, allowing a combined one hit and one walk on the way to the 8-7 win.

New pitchers Slaide Naturman and JT Caruso closed out game two strong. Caruso looked especially encouraging. Two of the New York native’s four strikeouts had batters swing and miss on pitches in the 60s.

Freshman Brandon Olivera and South Florida State transfer Myles Caba gave up a combined three hits for no runs in the final three frames of game three.

“That kind of showed you a little bit of what our team is all about,” Arteaga said regarding Miami’s first game of the season. “There was never any panic in the dugout. We just kept chugging along and playing our game. Just a great team win.”

Despite the mid-game scare in game one, Arteaga could not have asked for a better start to his first season. While the expectation is that the roster could switch around as the year moves forward, the Hurricanes seem to have a strong core.

The Hurricanes have a few days off before they welcome in a cross-state matchup with the UCF Knights at Mark Light Field on Wednesday. The game is set for a 5 p.m. first pitch.