Starting pitcher Manny Miguelez handed the ball off to redshirt freshman relief pitcher Teddy Kaufman with a 5-1 lead over Mercer through five innings.
But because Miami will rely on an inexperienced bullpen, comprised primarily of freshmen, the game was far from over.
Freshman pitcher Alex Koronis allowed three runs in 1.1 innings and closer Enrique Garcia, a junior college transfer, allowed the tying and winning runs in the ninth inning as Miami lost to Mercer 6-5 Friday night.
"I feel like we are a very young team," first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "I feel like we did get very relaxed. I think we felt like yeah we are going to kill this team, but Mercer is a great team. They are no joke. They are out to win some games and tonight they pitched well, had timely hitting, and had great defense."
Miguelez finished the night allowing one run, five hits, and one walk in five innings pitched. Miguelez could only throw five innings because he was on a strict pitch count. He would hand the ball off to the bullpen at 75 pitches or at five innings—which ever came first.
"Manny pitched well enough to win," coach Jim Morris said. "He met his pitch limit and that is what we do with our pitchers. We don't every overthrow guys early in the year. We bring guys along slowly and we try to develop our bullpen so we can be ready for the NCAA tournament."
Miami scored early, putting up two runs in the first inning primarily off of aggressive base-running. Tomas scored the first run of the game during a double steal in which he narrowly escaped the tag at home plate.
Yonder Alonso had a big night at the plate, reaching base with every at-bat, going 3-for-3 with two walks. Alonso scored two runs and one RBI—including a home run shot that went over 400 feet as it traveled past the centerfield wall.
Accompanying Miami's bullpen problems in the late innings was the inability to score runs offensively.
"We didn't hit well late in the game, we didn't pitch well late in the game, and we didn't play good defense late in the game—and that means that you'll lose—because in close games that will kill you at the end of the game," Morris said.
Closer Enrique Garcia entered the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a man on second base with the game still at 5-4. Garcia struck out batter Steven Karwatt with an offspeed pitch to end the inning.
But in the ninth inning, Garcia allowed four hits and two runs as Mercer took the lead. Miami had the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, but pinch hitter Ryan Jackson, a freshman, popped-out to leftfield to end the game.
With a young bullpen, Morris will continue to be patient in this early part of the season as he lets his inexperienced arms develop confidence and gain valuable experience.
"I told our bullpen if the same situation comes up tomorrow, the same guys will get the ball," Morris said. "They have earned the role they have right now, and they don't lose that in one day."
David Lake can be reached at email@example.com
Baseball Team Falls in Opener, 6-5
Canes Time Top Stories
Miami vs. Virginia Tech HighlightsJerod Evans had 357 yards of total offense and 3 scores to lead the Hokies to a 37-16 win over the Hurricanes. Travon McMillian rushed for 131 yards and Bucky Hodges caught 2 TDs…
Canes TimeThursday at 9:59 PM
Post Virginia Tech: Mark RichtRead on to see everything head coach Mark Richt was saying following his team's loss to Virginia Tech Thursday night.
Canes TimeThursday at 9:54 PM
Virginia Tech 37 , Miami 16Here are some game notes from Miami's 21-point loss to the Hokies.
Canes TimeThursday at 9:52 PM
State of the Canes: DefenseThe Hurricanes are 4-2 and preparing to play at Virginia Tech Thursday night. Read on for a complete analysis of Miami's defense at this point in the season.
Canes TimeTuesday at 8:15 PM