It was decided early.
The University of Miami’s Hurricanes torched UMaine first team All-America East righthander Colin Fitzgerald for seven runs and seven hits in just an inning and a third en route to a 9-1 victory in their NCAA Division I Coral Gables Regional opener at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Florida Friday night.
UMaine, now 32-20, will face Louisiana-Lafayette, 40-23, in an elimination game on Saturday at noon while Miami, 41-19, will take on 39-20 Texas in the 6 p.m. winners bracket game.
Texas beat Louisiana 4-2 in the first game on Friday.
It was UMaine’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.
Miami improved to 29-5 at home as four pitchers combined on a five-hitter.
The Hurricanes, who belted their 113th, 114th and 115 homers of the season, wasted little time jumping ahead at the expense of Fitzgerald.
C.J. Kayfus started the first inning by reaching on an infield single when UMaine second baseman Quinn McDaniel had trouble getting the ball out of his glove.
Lefthanded hitting Edgardo Villegas came up and belted his seventh homer of the season to right center.
The Hurricanes broke it open with five more in the second to chase Fitzgerald.
Dominic Pitelli lined a single over McDaniel’s head to open the inning.
One out later, Carlos Perez walked and Kayfus followed with a run-scoring double to right center.
Villegas singled to center to drive in Perez and Morales followed with a three-run opposite-field homer to right center, his 17th of the season.,
Sophomore Fitzgerald was then pulled by UMaine head coach Nick Derba in favor of Noah Lewis.
In addition to allowing seven hits and seven runs, Fitzgerald walked two and didn’t strike out anybody. He threw 23 strikes among his 45 pitches.
Fitzgerald had allowed eight hits and six earned runs over 6 ⅔ innings of his previous two starts.
Sophomore righthander Gage Ziehl, who entered the game with a 7-4 record and a 4.60 earned run average, went six strong innings to pick up the win.
He struck out seven of the first 10 hitters he faced and allowed four hits and one unearned run over six innings. He finished with seven strikeouts and he didn’t walk anyone. He threw 83 pitches, 55 for strikes.
UMaine scored its only run of the game in the fourth when McDaniel doubled, moved to third on a groundout and scored when catcher Perez tried to pick him off third only to hit him and have the ball bounce into foul territory.
Lewis pitched 4 ⅔ scoreless innings before surrendering two runs in the seventh on Blake Cyr’s lead-off double to left and Zach Levenson’s 14th homer of the season, a blast to left center.
Justin Baeyens came on to pitch a scoreless eighth inning for UMaine.
Lewis turned in an impressive outing, allowing four hits and two runs in 5 ⅔ innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
Alejandro Rosario pitched a scoreless seventh inning for Miami, Ben Chestnutt tossed a scoreless eighth and Sebastian Perez allowed just one hit in the ninth.
Morales and Villegas each homered and singled for the Hurricanes. Cyr doubled twice and Kayfus doubled and singled.
McDaniel had two doubles and a single for the Black Bears. Colby Emmertz, playing in place of starting catcher Ryan Turenne (illness), had a fifth-inning double and Connor Goodman had a base hit.
“The better team won today,” said UMaine head coach Derba. “They flat-out beat us.”