The Hurricanes bats came alive tonight early. In the second inning, Miami (4-0) scored four runs off Florida starter Kyle Mullaney.
It all started with leftfielder Dave DiNatale leading off the inning with a hit by pitch. DiNatale stole second and rightfielder Adan Severino hit a grounder up to second that second baseman Clayton Pisani could not handle. The error allowed DiNatale to score.
Miami second baseman Jemile Weeks capped off the second inning scoring with an opposite field two-run home run.
"I've been putting in some work on the left side," Weeks said. "I'm not really struggling but I'm trying to find my swing from the left side. Today, I felt pretty good in BP and I found a good pitch and put a good swing on it and it happened to carry out."
Sophomore short stop Ryan Jackson, who picked up his third double of the year tonight, feels the hot start in tonight's game was crucial in the victory.
"It was good for us," Jackson said. "Last weekend, we got started a bit slow. We came out hot tonight and that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to get up on them early and put them away. That's our plan every game and it's good that we got it done tonight."
The Hurricanes knocked Mullaney out of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. The sophomore right-hander had trouble stopping the potent Miami offense. The Canes were able to score six runs off Mullaney but that was not all they would get tonight.
The Canes scored two more runs off reliever Clint Franklin. The first came in the fifth inning when Blake Tekotte drove in Jason Hagerty on a sacrifice fly. Three innings later, Tekotte drove in Hagerty again, this time on a single.
Coach Jim Morris was pleased with the offensive production he saw from his team tonight.
"Eight runs, we've got to win. I'll take eight runs every night and take our chances. Whether it's Friday night or Wednesday night, we've got to pitch well enough and play good enough defense to be able to win in those situations."
While the bats were hot tonight, that was not the only story to the Canes success.
Miami starting pitcher Eric Erickson was perfect through five innings until he walked third baseman Jon Townsend to open up the sixth. Two batters later, Gators catcher Hampton Tigner, Erickson's high school teammate, broke up the no hitter with a double.
"It's good for him," Erickson said. "He had a good game tonight with that hit and did a good job catching."
The Gators (5-1) scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to close out Erickson's night. The sophomore was stellar for Miami allowing four hits and striking out nine Gators.
"It's very important to have a guy that can win on Friday nights," Morris said. "You think back at the guys that did that like Cesar Carrillo or J.D Arteaga. I mention him because he was most like Eric as a pitcher. It's nice to know you have a guy that you feel is going to win every time he takes the mound."
"Those guys are big for us," Weeks said. "Bellamy is one of the most improved pitchers we've got. He came out here starting this fall just mowing guys down. He did real well in summer league and he brought his game out here this spring."
Bellamy relieved Erickson and threw one and a third shut out innings. The right-hander's dominance continued tonight as he struck out three Gators and did not allow a hit.
"I'm going out there and feeling confident," Bellamy said. "I'm just trying to throw strikes and get people out. If they hit three ground balls and we get three outs that's great and if I get three strike outs that's great too. I just want to get the ball to Carlos and let him do his thing."
And that is just what Bellamy did.
Closer Carlos Gutierrez shut the door on the Gators in the ninth inning. The tall right-hander put the Gators down in order to send Miami fans home happy.
"The bullpen was great," Morris said. "Bellamy was outstanding and Gutz was outstanding. If we can get our bullpen like that in the seventh, eighth and ninth, that will put you in a position to have a great chance to get to Omaha."
Junior outfielder Blake Tekotte has some bad memories involving the Gators in his Hurricanes career but tonight was not one of them.
"It's definitely a huge win," Tekotte said. "The past two years, we've lost five out of six to them so it's really big to get that first win."
Kyle Bellamy agrees with Tekotte and thinks the team is always looking forward to playing the Gators.
"I think anytime we play the Gators it's a huge motivation," Bellamy said. "Any time the Gators come to town or we go to Gainesville, it's a big thing and we all get up for it."
Bellamy and the rest of the team know not to let the excitement get the best of them and are focused on the bigger picture.
"I think winning Friday night is the biggest thing," Bellamy said. "We win Friday night and we can end the series tomorrow. This is a huge series. It's a big rivalry so it will be great. It was a big win tonight and hopefully tomorrow we'll come out and get another W and win the series."
Junior Dennis Raben left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Raben, who missed the opening series against Cincinnati due to a back injury, experienced some stiffness in his back again tonight.
"His back just got tight," Morris said. "He won't play tomorrow and hopefully he'll be able to play again on Sunday. It's cool tonight and it tightened up a little bit on him so we got him out."