March 4, 2009

Courtesy of Rhode Island

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Junior pitcher Eric Smith (Milford, Conn.) threw eight shutout innings as the Rhode Island baseball team upset No. 8 Miami, 3-0, on Tuesday night at Alex Rodriguez park in Coral Gables, Fla. Smith struck out five batters and allowed just three hits in what arguably is the biggest victory in the program's history.

"This is so wild right now," Smith said following his dominant performance on the mound. "Its like I can't even speak. The guys are all so pumped, its awesome. I'm still catching my breath."

With the shutout victory, the Rams became the first team to hold the Hurricanes scoreless over nine innings since then-No. 5 Virginia blanked Miami (1-0) on March 24, 2007. URI also became the first team in over four years to shut down the 'Canes on their home field. Then 16th-ranked North Carolina was the last to do with a with a 2-0 win on May 16, 2004.

Senior Dan Rhault (Lincoln, R.I.) and sophomore Jeff Cammans (Jamestown, R.I.) both went 2-for-4 on the night to lead the Rams at the plate.

Miami - which dropped to 6-2 on the season - entered the game ranked in five national polls: ESPN/USA Today (#8), NCBWA (#9), Collegiate Baseball (#10), (#14) and Baseball America (#15).

Rhody jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second as junior Rob Deveney (Marlton, N.J.) led off with a single to center and advanced to third on a double by Cammans. Junior Zoey Angulo (Miami, Fla.) then plated DeVeney on a sac-fly to right and freshman Mike LeBel (Quincy, Mass.) sent Cammans across the plate with an RBI single to left.

The Rams (5-2) added another run in the top of the third when Rhault sent a one-out single to right field, advanced to third on a base hit by sophomore Tom Coulombe (Lincoln, R.I.) and gave URI the 3-0 advantage on a sac-fly by DeVeney.

"This is just an unbelievable win for us," explained URI head coach Jim Foster. "To come out and shut down a team that was ranked No. 1 in the country last year says a lot about our guys. They have been playing so well. I couldn't be happier right now."

Miami failed to record a hit in its next 20 at-bats as only a pair of runners reached first - both on walks - until Nathan Melendres led off with a single in the top of the ninth. Senior closer Luke Demko (Gilford, N.H.) then entered the game and pitched Miami's next batter into a double-play before the Hurricanes' Ryan Jackson grounded out to second to end the game.

Rhode Island recorded nine hits in the victory compared to just three by the Hurricanes - who have appeared in College World Series in 11 of the last 15 seasons and 23 times overall.

The win was Smith's first of the season while Miami's Daniel Miranda picked up his first loss. Demko earned the save, also his first this season.

The Canes' best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the first when Chris Hermann was on third with two outs. Jason Haggerty was then hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners but freshman Milan Adams (Exeter, R.I.) caught Haggerty stealing to end the inning without damage.

"First the win over NC State and now this," Smith addded. "It really gives us the confidence to know that we can get out there and compete with anyone."

Rhode Island returns to action on March 5 when it returns to Winter Haven, Fla. to face Fairfield at 11:00 a.m.