Canes Take Opener

The University of Miami baseball team opened the weekend series with a 5-2 win over 23rd-ranked Tennessee in front of 2,425 fans at Lindsay Nelson Stadium.

"This was a big win for us," Miami Head Coach Jim Morris said. "We played good defensive throughout the game and got a great start from J.D. (Cockroft) and our bullpen really finished things off. Scoring the five runs early put us in a good position to win the game."

The 14th-ranked Hurricanes improved to 10-3 on the season, while the Volunteers suffered their second straight loss of the season to fall to 10-3. UM starter J.D. Cockroft ran his record to 3-0 on the season, while Derek Tharpe picked up his first loss to fall to 2-1.

J.D. Cockroft made the second start of his career, pitching a career-high 6.1 innings and giving up six hits and two runs, while striking out two batters and walking three on 99 pitches. Shawn Valdes-Fauli and Andrew Cohn got the Hurricanes into the ninth inning where George Huguet picked up his first save of the season and the 23rd of his career. The saved moved him into a tie with Jay Tessmer (1994-95) for fourth place on Miami's all-time chart.

Danny Figueroa walked on four pitches to open the game and after three straight balls to Adam Ricks, Tharpe gave up a single Ricks to move Figuera to third base. Tharpe then uncorked a wild pitch to score Figueroa and give UM a 1-0 lead.

Tharpe then got Jim Burt out swinging but Gaby Sanchez delivered the big hit, crushing the first pitch he saw into the parking lot beyond the left-field fence. The home run was his second of the season and staked UM to an early 4-0 lead.

The Volunteers refused to go quietly in the bottom of the first inning, as a leadoff walk to Jordan Czarniecki came around to score for Tennessee on a single by the designated hitter Alex Suarez. With the bases loaded, Chad LeGate grounded to second base where Michael Rivera was forced out. The call did not sit well with UT Head Coach Rod Delmonico, who was ejected from the game for arguing the call.

The Canes tacked on their fifth run of the game in the third inning on a Richard Giannotti double down the left-field line. The doubled scored Burt who had walked earlier in the inning and was Giannotti's fourth double of the season in just his fourth game of the season.

Tharpe was replaced by junior Dusty Johnson in the top of the fifth inning after allowing five runs and five hits, while walking three batters and throwing 88 pitches in four innings of work. Johnson worked 4.1 innings and held Miami to two hits and no runs. Casey Eisemann worked the final two outs of the ninth inning for Tennessee.

Tennessee scored its second run of the game on a one-out RBI double by Brian Cleveland. Czarniecki scored on the play after leading off the inning with a bunt single down the third base line. With Cleveland still on second base, Cockroft got out of the inning with a ground out to third base and then struck out Alex Suarez looking.

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