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The No. 19 Miami Hurricanes opened up their series with the visiting Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman in dominating fashion on Friday night, winning their series opener by a final score of 7-0.
In a game that turned into a pitcher's duel at Alex Rodriguez Park, Eric Erickson (7-5) squared off against Wildcat senior Rayan Gonzalez (7-1) in an impressive match-up of veteran starters. The two pitchers allowed only eight hits through 13 combined innings of work, striking out a total of 14 batters. Luckily for the Hurricanes, Erickson was just a bit better on Friday night, guiding his team to the end of a three-game losing streak.
The Sarasota, Fla. native threw seven clean innings in the opener, pitching himself out of big jams in the fourth and fifth innings. Erickson, who struck out eight Wildcat batters, allowed zero earned runs in a start lasting at least seven innings for the third time this season and first since facing North Carolina at home on April 6.
The Hurricanes (28-17, 12-12 ACC) were unable to muster much offense against Gonzalez, but struck through with a bit of luck in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Chantz Mack became only the fourth baserunner of the day for Miami on a two-out walk issued by the senior righthander. On an attempted pick-off move to first, Gonzalez balked when the ball fell out of his hand unintentionally after recognizing no teammate was covering first base.
Sophomore third baseman Brad Fieger then seized the opportunity with a big double to the gap in left-center, plating Mack and giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish. The double was Fieger's ninth of the season, and came at a time when the Hurricanes needed it most.
The team's pitching staff took care of the rest, as Erickson finished seven strong while Eric Nedeljkovic and Adam Sargent completed the game's final two frames. Between the three pitchers, the team allowed only five hits and struck out ten batters.
Miami would tack on a whopping six runs of insurance in the bottom of the eighth off Bethune relievers Bryan Rivera and Jordan Dailey, including a two-RBI single from Stephen Perez and sacrifice flies from Jarred Mederos and Chantz Mack. With the win, the Hurricanes earned their third-straight decision over the Wildcats and ninth in the last 11 meetings.
The two teams are set to square off on Saturday for game two of the series at Alex Rodriguez Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.