The University of Rhode Island baseball team saved their best baseball for the final game of a three-game set, but could not avoid a sweep at the hands of the No. 2 University of Florida.
Rhode Island suffered 9-1, 22-3 and 6-1 losses to the Gators, falling to 0-3 after their first series of the young season.
Rhode Island head baseball coach Raphael Cerrato provided the team with some fireworks in Sunday’s matinee to close the series. Following a solo home run in the fifth from senior Nick DeRegis, and with the Rams trailing 3-1, Florida freshman infielder Dalton Guthrie ripped a line drive double down the third base line, scoring sophomore Logan Shore from second base on a close play at the plate.
Cerrato immediately left the Rams dugout on the first baseline and ran out to argue with third base umpire Olindo Mattia. Cerrato asserted that Guthrie’s base hit had landed in foul territory, with the Rams manager pointing to dirt in foul territory, which allegedly bore the mark of the baseball.
As Cerrato’s pleas fell on deaf ears, he ran back to home plate umpire Damien Beal to argue the play at the plate. Cerrato’s arguing eventually resulted in his ejection from the game, though he would not find out until a pitch later, when he was ushered away from the playing field by park staff.
“That was tough because it was a ball game,” Cerrato said. “We had a call that went against us that really cost us a couple runs. Initially I argued both. I thought he was out at the plate and I thought the ball was foul. There’s really not much more to get into.”
Rhode Island got the closest they would all weekend, but could not generate much offense in dropping the final game of the set.
The Rams sent junior southpaw Steve Moyers to the hill to open the series, who allowed seven runs on five hits and three walks. Only two of Moyers seven runs were earned, as the Rams committed five errors behind him giving Florida an early 5-0 lead, which they would not relinquish. Senior shortstop Tim Caputo, who was listed by collegebaseballinsider.com as one of the top two defensive infielders in the Atlantic 10 Conference, committed three of the team’s five errors.
“We just looked like a team that hadn’t been on a baseball field in four months,” Cerrato said. “It’s the speed of the game, being on dirt and grass. You’re taking groundballs in a gym, you’re throwing balls off a wall and you’re seeing a groundball hit at you hard, it’s a tough thing.
Senior outfielder Mike Sherburne provided two of the team’s five base hits including the offense for the lone Rhode Island run on the evening, driving a solo shot well beyond the left field wall in the eighth inning.
“We’re all the same, we’re all playing Division I baseball,” Sherburne said of his standout weekend. “Whether it’s the SEC or the A10 there’s great talent everywhere. I just told myself they weren’t better than me in the box.”
Sherburne continued to provide offense for the Rams in Game 2, scoring the first run of the contest in the top of the first off a groundout from sophomore Martin Taveras. Junior right-hander Lou Distasio would struggle, though. Distasio lasted only 2 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and 12 runs including three home runs. Sophomore Taso Stathopoulos would relieve Distasio, allowing four runs on three hits in 2 2/3 innings of work himself, as Florida cruised out to 12-2 lead.
Taveras knocked in another run in the third inning on a groundout to second, and redshirt sophomore Mike Corin homered to left center field in the sixth completing Rhode Island’s scoring.
The Rams play next on Feb. 27 when they travel to North Carolina to play a three-game series against the Tar Heels at Chapel Hill.