Canes Score Three Runs in the Ninth, Win 9-8

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - When freshman pitcher Anthony Nalepa allowed two consecutive solo home runs in the top of the ninth inning to give UCLA an 8-6 lead, it appeared the Miami bullpen had blown another lead in the late innings.

But Miami managed to answer in the bottom of the ninth inning with three runs in a thrilling 9-8 win Saturday night.

Leadoff hitter Jemile Weeks began the ninth inning with a bloop infield single. Next, freshman shortstop Ryan Jackson hit a line-drive single to left field and Yonder Alonso hit a single up the middle of the infield to score Weeks from second base to cut UCLA's lead to 8-7.

Then, freshman Mark Sobolewski, who started the game in left field, hit a double down the left field line, scoring Jackson from second base, tying the game 8-8.

"Our team is very resilient," Sobolewski said. "We work way too hard to give up on a nine inning game. We played all nine innings and we did not give up on ourselves."

After Dennis Raben lined out to first base, senior Gus Menendez hit the game winning RBI with a single up the middle of the infield, scoring Alonso from third base.

"This was a great team win tonight," coach Jim Morris said. "It was great to see the hitters come together at the end of the game like that, but we had many mistakes tonight and we are fortunate to have won the game."

"We had a nice lead and let it get away again, but you have to give our guys credit, they kept battling and we won it in the end."

Miami starting pitcher Danny Gil turned in a solid performance Saturday night, throwing five innings while allowing three runs, four hits, and three walks while striking out eight hitters.

But when Gil handed the ball off to the young and inexperienced bullpen in the sixth inning, Gil watched his 5-3 lead evaporate as the six relievers used allowed a combined five runs.

After UCLA cut the Miami lead to 6-5 on a line-drive by Ryan Babineau on a line-drive RBI, Miami closer Enrique Garcia entered the game for freshman Michael Rudman, with men on first and third base with zero outs with UCLA slugger Mickey Weisser at the plate.

Garcia forced Weisser to ground to first baseman Yonder Alonso who threw out Will Penniall at home on a fielder's choice.

But while facing the next batter, Nolan Rouse, Garcia threw a wild pitch, allowing Uribe to score from third base, tying the game 6-6.

Garcia got out of the inning by forcing Rouse to strikeout for the second out of the inning and forcing the next batter, second baseman Adam Carrithers, to ground-out to second baseman Jemile Weeks.

One bright spot of the bullpen was the pitching by Raben, the right fielder. Raben forced the next three batters into outs—including a strikeout of the final batter of the inning, Murphy—stranding UCLA's runner, Carrithers, at second base.

"The coaches let me know the inning before I pitched that I need to warm-up," Raben said. "I had to get loose quick, so I was ready to go and I went after the hitters."

Weeks and Alonso each hit solo homeruns in the first inning—Weeks a leadoff shot over the leftfield wall while Alonso pulled the ball over the rightfield wall—to give Miami a quick 2-0 lead

Alonso hit his second homerun of the night off Lafferty in the third inning—a monster shot well over 400 feet as it traveled beyond the center field wall—scoring Jackson from first giving Miami a 5-2 lead.

Alonso had a career night Saturday, going 4-for-4, with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 runs, and one walk.

"When we came back in the dugout in the ninth inning we knew we had to get back into the game little by little," Alonso said. "We had to get one run at a time and we did."

Redshirt freshman pitcher David Gutierrez recorded the win as he finished the ninth inning getting all three batters out after Nalepa allowed two home runs.

Miami will go for the three game sweep tomorrow at 1 PM as the Hurricanes play UCLA in the final game of the series.

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

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