South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)

Arteaga era opens with walk-off win

- By Adam Lichtenste­in

CORAL GABLES — J.D. Arteaga’s first game as Miami’s head coach ended in storybook fashion.

After falling behind to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Hurricanes battled back in the late innings and won on a walkoff single by catcher Carlos Perez, beating NJIT in the season opener, 8-7.

“A lot of fun to get that first win out of the way,” Arteaga said, “but I told the team, ‘… I got my first win, fantastic. But I’m tired of hearing about me and it being my first season. It’s about the Hurricanes and about everybody in that clubhouse. It’s nice to get that first one out of the way. Now let’s just go win as a team.’”

Miami loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth on a single by freshman Daniel Cuvet, and fellow freshman Antonio Jimenez pinch-ran for him. Jacoby Long and Dorian Gonzalez Jr. followed with a pair of bunt singles to load the bases. Perez singled through the left side to score Jimenez and clinch the victory.

“It felt great,” Perez said. “I had a little walk-off last year toward the end of the season. This one is definitely way better.”

The Hurricanes struck first in the game’s opening inning. After UM loaded the bases, Gonzalez got Miami’s first RBIs of the year with a bases-clearing double to left field. The Hurricanes added runs the next two innings on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Blake Cyr and a solo home run by redshirt sophomore Lorenzo Carrier.

But Miami would not be able to cruise to an easy win. Starter Gage Ziehl began the game with three hitless innings, but the wheels came off in the fourth. He surrendere­d a solo home run to NJIT center fielder Albert Choi and then gave up back-to-back singles.

Highlander­s right fielder Kevin Putsky followed those hits with a three-run homer that curled around the right-field foul pole, cutting UM’s lead to 5-4.

Ray Ortiz tied the game up at five in the fifth inning with a double off Ziehl, who threw a wild pitch that scored the go-ahead run. The junior pitcher gave up one more run on a single by Andrew Eppinger before Arteaga took him out of the game.

“Something like that can be so deflating, right?” Arteaga said. “It’s Opening Day. The emotions are already running really high, and Gage is just cruising through the first three innings … and the first pitch he threw in the fourth was a solo home run, and it just kind of snowballed on him a little bit. But there was never any panic in the dugout.”

Ziehl, who ended the game having given up seven runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts, opened the season with a rough start last season and bounced back as the season went on.

“As a pitcher, first off, pitching in a big game — and I say big game, the emotional side of it for Opening Day — it’s more of a mental struggle than physical,” Arteaga said. “You’re so amped up and you’re going so good, the tendency sometimes is to relax, mentally, and then you get slapped in the face with a first-pitch home run, it’s kind of tough to kick yourself and get back into it.”

Cyr, coming off a Freshman All-American 2023 season, swung the momentum back to the Hurricanes with a line-drive home run to center field, cutting UM’s deficit to one in the seventh inning. First baseman Jason Torres tied the game at seven with a sacrifice fly later in the inning.

Miami’s bullpen came through with 4 ⅓ innings of scoreless relief; Julian Hernandez, Chris Scinta, Nick Robert and Drew Dwyer shut down the Highlander­s and allowed UM’s offense to complete the comeback win.

“They came in and did an outstandin­g job,” Arteaga said. “Kind of kept them there and gave us a chance to come back and win the game.”

Miami faced NJIT in a doublehead­er on Saturday and the series finale is at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

 ?? JOHN MCCALL/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL ?? Players from the Miami celebrate after beating NJIT on Friday in Coral Gables.
JOHN MCCALL/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL Players from the Miami celebrate after beating NJIT on Friday in Coral Gables.

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