Miami Hurricanes Baseball: Mediavilla Shines in First Start as Miami Wins 2-0 Pitcher’s Duel

Jun 15, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes catcher Garrett Kennedy (40) talks to pitcher Michael Mediavilla (18) against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the seventh inning at TD Ameritrade Park. Miami won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes catcher Garrett Kennedy (40) talks to pitcher Michael Mediavilla (18) against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the seventh inning at TD Ameritrade Park. Miami won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming into this season, questions lingered around the Miami Hurricanes regarding whether or not Michael Mediavilla could make a smooth transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation. After his first career start against Rutgers Saturday night, those questions might have already been answered.

In six innings, the big lefthander from Hialeah, Fla. allowed just three hits, struck out a career-high seven and walked none as the Canes (2-0) won a tight 2-0 pitcher’s duel over the Scarlet Knights (0-2).

“It felt great,” Mediavilla said of his first career start. “Just going out there today and starting which has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid was just a great, humbling feeling and when I went out there I got the job done.”

Mediavilla wasn’t able to fulfill his dream of starting for the Hurricanes a season ago, but he did play an integral role in Miami’s journey to Omaha as a reliever and was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team. With an impressive 1.94 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched, the lefthander was named to the rotation in his second year in Coral Gables and showed Saturday night that Coach Jim Morris and his staff made a smart decision.

In each of the first three innings, Mediavilla allowed a baserunner, but then shut the door immediately putting up zero after zero on the scoreboard. While the Hurricanes starter was sharp on the mound, the Miami bats took a while to get going as they struggled at the plate.

After two more scoreless innings from Mediavilla, the Canes behind Romy Gonzalez and Carl Chester were finally able to manufacture a run. The freshman opened up the bottom of the fifth with an almost identical double to his first hit a night ago, ripping one down the line in left. After a sacrifice bunt from Randy Batista, Carl Chester picked up his first hit and first RBI of the season smacking a liner into left to give Miami a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Mediavilla began the game just as strongly as he started with a 1-2-3 inning and two more strikeouts to end his impressive outing in which no Scarlet Knights runner reached third base. Rutgers likely won’t be a making a trip to Omaha or the NCAA Tournament this season, but what we saw from the sophomore in his first career start showed his move from the bullpen into the rotation could be seamless this year.

“It’s actually not that much of a transition,” Mediavilla said after the game. “You just have to go one batter at a time trying to limit your pitches, trying to go deep into the ballgame and I just went in with the same mentality as if I was coming out of the bullpen and it worked out great today.”

After a scoreless bottom half of the sixth for the Hurricanes, Frankie Bartow entered the game in the seventh for the second consecutive night and once again the freshman threw a scoreless frame. It’s been just two outings, but the righthander has shown early on that he could be the link the Miami so desperately needs between the starters and the solid duo of Cooper Hammond and Bryan Garcia on the back end.

“Bartow’s got a good arm and he’s very focused,” Coach Morris said of the freshman Bartow. “He’s shown a lot of confidence every time we’ve put pressure on him in preseason, but being in the game against another team answers a lot of questions and he did a very good job.”

As Miami would like to do all season, Cooper Hammond entered in the eighth behind Bartow and delivered a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts to set the stage for Bryan Garcia to close it out.

The Hurricanes added an insurance run before Miami’s closer took the mound as Johnny Ruiz rocketed a bases-loaded single into left to double Miami’s lead. The Canes couldn’t capitalize on a bases-loaded, one-out situation, but with the kind of closer they have, they often don’t need to.

Garcia entered the game in the ninth and added two strikeouts of his own in a 1-2-3 frame to lock up a 2-0 win for the Hurricanes.

“It was a great game for us with Mediavilla pitching outstanding needless to say, but we played really good defense and we executed well in situations,” Morris said of his team’s second straight win over Rutgers. “I thought we played solid and I’d like to see us score a few more runs, but it’s a big win for us.”

Miami certainly won’t garner national recognition for a win over Rutgers, but the two wins the Hurricanes have got under their belt so far are exactly the type of wins you want to see from a team expecting to make it to Omaha. They haven’t been at their best, especially hitting-wise, but the defense has been pretty solid, the starters have been dominant and the bullpen has done their job. You can’t ask for more than that.

The offense will certainly need to start picking up steam after 16 strikeouts in the last two games, but you expect the hitting to improve as the team continues to get more live-game action. Maybe with the way guys like Woodrey and Mediavilla have pitched in these first two games, they will have more time to do just that.

There aren’t too many questions about this talented Miami team, but coming in, the transition of Mediavilla into the pressurized Saturday role was one of them. It’s early on, but after tonight’s performance that question won’t be hanging around for much longer.