Score: No. 5 Miami 3, VCU 2
Records: VCU (40-24), Miami (48-15)
Location: Mark Light Field – Coral Gables, Fla.
The Short Story: Behind six-plus strong innings from senior JoJo Howie, the VCU baseball team held the nation's best offense to just three runs, but dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision in the first game of a three-game set in Miami on Friday afternoon.
How It Happened
- In the second, Miami capitalized on some VCU miscues to score three runs and take a lead. The Rams responded with a run in the third when James Bunn crossed the plate on a fielder's choice after he led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch.
- Following a 90 minute weather delay, the Hurricanes tried to extend their lead, however Howie silenced thier attempt as he pitched out of a jam in the fifth, leaving a pair of runners stranded.
- Matt Davis got things started for the Rams in the sixth with a single to right. The Rams looked to have a rally started when a ball to second was misplayed, however following a ump discussion, Davis was called out for interference and left VCU with a runner on first with one out. Later in the inning, Bunn singled up the middle to drive in Vimael Machin and cut the Hurricanes' lead to one.
- Howie gave a great effort on the mound, tossing 6.1 innings, scattering just four hits while striking out two. Matt Lees took the mound in relief and kept the powerful 'Canes off the board for the rest of the contest.
HEAD COACH SHAWN STIFFLER
"Congratulations to the University of Miami. They pitched outstanding today. [Andy] Suarez and
[Michael] Mediavilla came in and did a really nice job bridging that thing and [Bryan] Garcia is as
advertised. He's obviously very good. They did an outstanding job keeping us off-balance all day. We
struck out nine times, had three errors and never got that big hit, so it was tough to string it together. I
thought we played hard though. I thought JoJo [Howie] did an unbelievable job of wiggling out of some
jams and making some big pitches. [He] especially showed a lot of toughness coming out of that rain
delay. I thought that was big for our program and said a lot about him. We have to play better. That's
the first thing our message is. We didn't play our particularly best game today and we were in the
middle of a 3-2 ballgame. No matter what happens tomorrow, win or lose, we need to play a better
baseball game. That's where it starts for the Rams and that's all we have to focus on is coming out and
settling down a little bit more in the first third of the baseball game and see where we're at. Still proud
of the way we competed."
On the explanation he got for the interference call in the sixth inning...
"The rule is that it doesn't matter if it's accidental. It doesn't matter what happens if the runner impedes
the progress of fielding the baseball, the runner's out. I had felt like [Matt Davis] ran straight through
the baseline. The explanation from the second base umpire was that our athlete did try to avoid it from
his eyes and he was the one who made the call. When they explain it to you, it's one of those calls
[where] that's how they see it, they got together, some guys on the back side saw it differently and
that's why the NCAA has the rule where you meet and get it right and that's what they're supposed to
do. It could have gone either way. I haven't gotten a chance to look at the replay a little bit and see what
really transpired. It's unfortunate. It's an unfortunate timing. That's part of the game. It's something I
have interest in going back and looking at, for certain. There's nothing you can coach your kid on. The
young man's looking at me and saying, 'What did I do wrong?' [The reply is], 'You did nothing wrong. It's
part of the rule.' It was a timing play and the umpire saw it that way after they got back together."
On the errors, strikeouts and not getting the bats going, and if that is a means game that got away from
"Yes. When you look at it on paper, it did. The difference is the University of Miami played well. That's
the difference. They have athletes all over the field and they cause you to maybe rush a little bit. You
look back at it and you didn't do a whole lot during the game and you were right in it. Those are tough
games to swallow. They're tough games, especially game one of a Super Regional, to certainly take.
That's part of it. I'm not going to sit here and say why we committed the errors or what led to those big
innings. JoJo is one of our best fielding pitchers. Vimael Machin, I won't trade him for any shortstop in
the country. Those errors are what they are. We need to get back out there tomorrow and if we play
errorless baseball, we will have a chance to win."
SENIOR JOJO HOWIE
On the approach coming out of the weather delay...
"Once I started moving around I felt good. I kind of always pitched through aches and pain my entire life,
so this was nothing I was used to. It was just another day. Honestly it was like a restart, I got to come out
and have better stuff than I had when I first came out, and I just kind of viewed it as a second chance."
On his error in the second inning...
"It was a mental error more than anything, I think and it's one I'll definitely never forget. And when I
coach later in life it will be something I'll bring up and I'll make sure my pitchers know never to do that
JUNIOR JAMES BUNN
On nerves or jitters being in the Super Regionals for the first time...
"I don't believe so. I think we just made mental mistakes and it ended up hurting us. I think we've made
three errors before in a game and we won that game. It just game back and hurt us when we played a
good Miami team. I wouldn't say I expected it. We played errorless baseball for a while now."
On Miami starting pitcher Andy Suarez's stuff and the game plan going against him...
"[My plan was to] try to jump on a fastball. That's what I think about for every pitcher, really. That hasn't
really changed. I just thought, since he was a lefty, that I had more of a right field approach, so I stayed
on the ball a little bit. I thought his slider was pretty good when he located it down. I know he liked to
make us chase and I think we ended up chasing a couple of them, me included."
The Rams will face Miami again tomorrow afternoon with the first pitch scheduled at 12:00 p.m.