No. 4 Florida Gators prevail again with 7-3 win over Miami Canes in series opener

The dominance continues.

Three home runs — two of them seventh-inning, back-to-back shots to left by Cade Kurland and projected MLB first-rounder Jac Caglianone — lifted the No. 4 Florida Gators to a 7-3 win over the Miami Hurricanes in Friday’s opener of a three-game weekend series.

UM (5-4) has narrowed its grip on UF (7-2) in the all-time series that began in 1940. The Canes now lead by just one game — 134-133-1.

The other Gators homer: Luke Heyman’s to center in the fifth.

Miami sophomore Jason Torres also hit a four-bagger, his team-leading sixth of the season, that drove home Edgar Villegas (single) and put UM up 2-1 in the third for its only lead of the game. It thrilled the sold-out crowd of 3,555 at Mark Light Field, but the euphoria quickly dissipated.

Florida scored six runs in the next six innings.

“Little things that in the game of baseball you have to do to win when you’re matched up against a good team, we didn’t do,’’ UM coach J.D. Arteaga said. “Our bullpen situation is what it is. A lot of young guys, a lot of guys that are inexperienced and very inconsistent. But some guys at the end did a very good job – [Slaide] Naturman and [JT] Caruso.

The Gators led 1-0 after the first inning when Heyman reached on an error by UM shortstop Antonio Jimenez, scoring Kurland, who led off with a single before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Heyman’s hard ground ball skipped off the heel of Jimenez’s glove and went into the outfield.

After UM’s 2-1 lead, the Gators went ahead 3-2 in the fourth on a single by Ty Evans and RBI-double by Tyler Shelnut. The call stood after the play at the plate was reviewed following a UM challenge. Michael Robertson’s two-out single to shortstop drove home Shelnut.

UF made it 4-2 in the fifth on Heyman’s solo homer to center, but the Canes came right back with a bases-loaded, RBI-walk by Dorian Gonzalez Jr. UM fans booed heartily that inning when freshman Daniel Cuvet, who came into game hitting .606, was hit by a pitch for the second time by starting UF pitcher Cade Fisher. Fisher was immediately replaced by reliever Ryan Slater, who hit next batter Torres.

After he hit Torres, winning pitcher Slater (1-0) walked Gonzalez and retired the next 10 batters.

Villegas led UM with three of the Canes’ seven hits and scored two of Miami’s three runs.

UM starter Gage Ziehl got his first loss of the season. Ziehl allowed four runs — three earned — on six hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out nine in 102 pitches.

“I executed my pitches,’’ Ziehl said. “They hit some mistakes. Stuff happens.”

Added Ziehl of the rowdy home crowd: “I love when our fans show out. They give us a bunch of energy. But we need them tomorrow.”

UM and Florida are back at 3 p.m. for Saturday’s game, in which Canes left-handed junior Rafe Schlesinger (1-0, 082) will get the start. The Gators will start right-handed freshman Liam Peterson (1-0, 0.00).

Arteaga lauded the crowd and “great atmosphere,’’ and said his players weren’t adversely affected.

“I didn’t see our guys playing out of control or playing fast,’’ Arteaga said. “We didn’t chase bad pitches. Those would all be signs of the moments getting too big. I didn’t see that. Our guys were very composed and played hard. By no means were we outclassed by a very good team.”