With five and a half innings played, the USF baseball team was holding its own against No. 14 Miami.
Todd Brazeal’s solo home run to left center field in the top of the sixth had tied the game at 2-2. USF pitcher Kyle Parker had pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in his first start of the season. His replacement, Kyle Eastham had pitched 2.1 innings, allowing two runs in the fifth inning, but avoiding any major damage.
But then the wheels fell off.
Jimmy Moran entered the game to pitch, but would only record one out. By the time he left the mound, the Hurricanes had blown the game open and taken a 6-2 lead. Moran walked Miami center fielder Nathan Melendres on four pitches to lead off the inning, an ominous sign of what was to come. The next batter, designated hitter Rony Rodriguez, was hit by a pitch before Moran committed a throwing error on what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Brad Fieger.
With the bases loaded and none out, second baseman Michael Broad hit a grand slam to left center field. Moran recovered to get a strikeout before two consecutive singles chased him from the game. Janick Serrallonga took over, but was also forced out of the game before the calamitous inning ended.
When it finally did end, Miami had extended its lead to 11-2. The Hurricanes sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning, with every player in the lineup scoring except for No. 6 hitter Dale Carey. Melendres scored twice in the inning.
Miami starter Stephen Ewing improved to 6-1 on the season, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing three runs. Beginning with the third out of the second inning, Ewing retired 11 consecutive batters, including four strikeouts. That streak was broken by Brazeal’s home run.
The Hurricanes scored three more runs in the eighth inning to extend the lead. USF second baseman Peter Brotons hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning, but by then it was too late.
USF falls to 30-83 all time against Miami, which is a four-time national champion.
Bulls outfielder/pitcher Junior Carlin went 0-for-2 with two walks and a sacrifice bunt, snapping his hit streak at 19 games. During the streak, he improved his batting average from .183 to .273.
USF (19-21, 8-8) will host St. John’s in a three-game series beginning Friday night.