Miami Hurricanes Baseball: Dominant Garcia Finishes Off Sweep of Rutgers in 8-1 Victory

Jun 13, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes pitcher Danny Garcia (14) pitches in the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes pitcher Danny Garcia (14) pitches in the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

Last season, the Miami Hurricanes powered their way to Omaha with one of the most explosive offenses in the country. If this weekend’s series against Rutgers is any evidence though, it may be their pitching that gets them back to the promised land of college baseball this season.

Following two impressive starts from Thomas Woodrey and Michael Mediavilla, lefthander Danny Garcia was even better for Jim Morris and the Canes as the junior allowed just two hits over seven innings, leading the Hurricanes (3-0) to a 8-1 win over Rutgers (0-3). The victory was Miami’s 12th consecutive win over the Scarlet Knights and it wrapped up the Hurricanes first series sweep of the year.

“I thought that we played team baseball today like we have the past two games,” Coach Jim Morris said after the game. “Danny Garcia pitched outstanding, our bullpen was good all weekend and we played really solid defense. Today we started swinging the bats better and it was just a good weekend for us.”

In his first career weekend start, Garcia didn’t show any nerves right from the get-go as he took just two minutes and seven pitches to work through his first frame of the season. In the bottom half of the inning, Miami gave their starter a little room to work with as Johnny Ruiz delivered a clutch two-out, two-RBI single with the bases loaded to put the Canes up 2-0 early.

With the way Garcia was throwing, that’s all the run support that he really needed. The lefthander used his dominant fastball and hard-breaking curveball all afternoon and the Rutgers hitters just couldn’t solve him. The Scarlet Knights finally managed their first hit in the third and got their only real scoring opportunity because of errors from Romy Gonzalez and Zack Collins, but still Rutgers couldn’t get anyone across the plate.

After six shutout innings from Garcia on the mound, the Miami offense finally woke back up in the bottom of the sixth as they got an RBI double from Willie Abreu on a perfectly executed hit-and-run and an RBI single from the scorching Johnny Ruiz.

With a 4-0 lead, Garcia finished off his amazing outing just as he began it with a 1-2-3 frame. The junior celebrating his 22nd birthday walked off to a standing ovation from the 2,888 in attendance at Mark Light Field as he finished off an impressive first start.

“It felt real good,” Garcia said when asked about his outing. “I was trying to just command my fastball and both sides of the plate and I thought I was very successful doing that today.”

After Garcia exited the Hurricanes added a fifth run in the bottom of the seventh after a bases-loaded walk to Jacob Heyward. In the eighth, the Canes got on the scoreboard once again as an E-4 allowed Ruiz to score from second and a two-RBI triple from Chris Barr extended the Miami lead to 8-0.

The Miami bullpen got to see two new faces with freshman Andrew Cabezas and redshirt freshman Keven Pimentel making their debuts out of the bullpen and while Pimentel struggled a bit with command, he gave up just one run on the way to the 8-1 victory.

There are certainly things Miami can improve upon before their midweek game with St. Thomas and a massive series with the Florida Gators next weekend, but this weekend’s sweep of Rutgers was pretty impressive. The starting pitchers combined to throw 18 innings and allowed just one earned run, nine hits and two walks while striking out 15. No matter what team you are playing, that is hard to do.

While the starters were outstanding, the bullpen was almost just as good as they threw nine innings and allowed just one run and three hits across the three games.

“I can tell you if you don’t have good pitching, you won’t go to Omaha,” Morris said when asked if his team’s pitching could carry them to Omaha. “You’ve got to pitch and you can’t outscore teams every weekend, so a good rotation and a good bullpen has been the secret that’s gotten us to Omaha 12 times since I’ve been here.”

While the pitching was phenomenal, the offense which was unstoppable a season ago got off to a slow start, but finally broke out a bit Sunday afternoon with eight runs and 11 hits. Surprisingly, it’s been junior Johnny Ruiz that has led the way early on. The second baseman filling in at shortstop for the suspended Brandon Lopez has gone 6-for-9 (.667 avg) with five RBI’s of the team’s 13 RBI’s in the first three games. While he did hit .315 a season ago, the junior started just 21 games and looks like he has made the step-up in his third year in Coral Gables.

“I’ve just been working hard this offseason,” Ruiz said of his hot start. “I wasn’t hitting too well in the scrimmages this fall so I really focused on that this winter break and I’ve been successful so now I just want to maintain that.”

When playing an opening series, all a team looks for is picking up three victories with some solid performances and the Hurricanes got key contributions from each of their three units this weekend. Only three of Miami’s eight runs were unearned, but their 11 hits today shows that they may be coming around soon.

The story of the weekend though was certainly the masterful pitching performances and if that continues throughout the rest of the year, Miami will find themselves in Omaha once again.