Most times in a pitching showdown between two aces, it’s the one who keeps the baseball in the ballyard that generally prevails.
Miami’s Chris Hernandez did and Florida’s Patrick Keating did not as the Hurricanes got two home runs and five RBI from No. 9 hitter Jonathan Weislow in an 8-5 victory over the Gators before 4,714 at McKethan Stadium.
The victory lifted Miami to 4-1 and handed Florida its first loss after five opening victories. Game Two of the three-game series will be played Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Gators took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, but the Hurricanes answered with three runs in the top of the fourth and three more in the top of the sixth, with Weislow home runs off senior right-hander Keating (1-1) in each inning. Hernandez improved to 2-0.
““We did a nice job offensively,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We worked some deep counts and got his pitch count up. I think he was at about 100 pitches through five (innings). We did what we needed to do. The problem was every time we scored runs, we gave them up in the following inning.”
After Miami went scoreless the first three innings, Florida’s Riley Cooper led off the Gators’ third with a single into center. Mike Mooney followed by chopping a ball off the plate and into the air. Hernandez fielded the ball but threw late to second, leaving Florida with two runners on and no one out.
Leadoff hitter Avery Barnes then dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners to second and third with one out. Matt den Dekker then hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Cooper. Josh Adams followed with a ground-rule double that scored Mooney. Brandon McArthur then singled home Adams for a 3-0 lead.
Keating came out to the mound in the top of the fourth with an opportunity to keep the momentum in the Florida dugout. Instead, the Hurricanes scratched back into the game.
Harold Martinez reached on an error by Adams at third base and stole second base during Ryan Jackson’s strike out. Dave DiNatale then singled up the middle, moving Martinez to third base. Jason Hagerty grounded out to second, bringing home Martinez and moving DiNatale to second base.
Weislow, who entered the game batting .166, then hammered a two-run homer out in left to tie the game at 3-3.
“It obviously wasn’t a good pitch,” said Keating, who went 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs, three of them earned. He walked one and struck out four. “There’s no excuse. It was just a bad pitch.”
The Gators took the lead back in the fifth inning. Mooney singled to left field off Hernandez. He moved to second on den Dekker’s one-out grounder to second. Adams then walked. McArthur then hit a chopper to second baseman Scott Lawson, who made a nice play but threw wide of first, scoring Mooney.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” said McArthur, who went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. “He came out with some live stuff. We were patient and got in some advantage counts. That was beneficial.”
Hernandez went five innings, throwing 100 pitches, and allowed four earned runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Though he had a high pitch count, Keating came back out for the sixth inning. He gave up a single to Jackson. Hagerty then roped a one-out single into right field to move Jackson to second base.
Weislow then made the Gators pay for the second time, hitting a Keating fastball into the left-field bleachers for a 6-4 Miami lead.
“It’s Miami and they have good hitters all up and down their lineup,” Keating said. “We can’t take anyone for granted, no matter where we are in the order. It just didn’t work out.”
After Miami tacked on one run in the eighth, Florida fought back in its half when McArthur was hit by a pitch with one out. After Pisani grounded out to move McArthur to second, Daniel Pigott scored McArthur with a single into center field.
Tyler Thompson then had his first career hit off All-American Kyle Bellamy to move Pigott to second. Cooper then walked to load the bases with two outs.
Then Mike Mooney hit a ground ball down the third-base line, and the throw from Chris Herrmann to first looked like it may have pulled Harold Martinez off first base. But Mooney was called out, leaving Miami with a 7-5 lead which grew to the final score when the Hurricanes scored another run in the ninth.
“I don’t know,” O’Sullivan said. “He was called out.”
Bellamy picked up his second save of the season with 1.1 innings of work, allowing one hit and two walks while fanning two. Jackson, DiNatale and Weislow led the 11-hit Miami attack with two hits each.
In today’s 2 p.m. game, Florida will throw freshman left-hander Alex Panteliodis against Miami, which will counter with junior right-hander David Gutierrez. The series ends Sunday with a noon start.