The first game in the Gino DiMare Era could not have gone better for the Hurricanes. Miami dominated with both pitching and offense; leading from the bottom of the first until the end of the game.
It was an emotional night for many at Mark Light Field. Obviously Gino DiMare coached his first game for the Hurricanes. However, on a more poignant note, it was the first regular season game Miami has played since the passing of J.D. Arteaga’s son Ari. The Hurricanes will honor him with a decal on the back of their batting helmets throughout the season.
As far as the game went, the top of the first saw quick work for Evan McKendry. The junior righty dealt a 1-2-3 inning on just nine pitches to start off the season for the Hurricanes. The bottom of the first saw immediate offense for the Hurricanes. With one out Anthony Vilar worked a full count walk, and was driven in by Freddy Zamora off a deep double to left-center field.
The top of the second saw yet another impressive inning for McKendry. It was his second consecutive 1-2-3 inning and he struck out both the first and third batters in the inning.
In the bottom of the second things really unraveled for Rutgers’ starter Serafino Brito. Brito managed to start the inning with a quick out, but Jordan Lala managed to beat out a one out bunt hit. Brito, who had been struggling with control all night, proceeded to hit Chet Moore with a pitch and Miami had two runners on with one out. Willy Escala then worked a 3-1 count and knocked a pitch all the way to the wall in left-center for an RBI triple that cleared the bases. Tony Jenkins knocked in Escala with an RBI single, and then Anthony Vilar drove him in with an RBI double to right-center, his first hit as a Hurricane. After that Freddy Zamora worked a favorable count and knocked a moonshot to left field that flew over the scoreboard. By the time the damage was done it was 7-0 Hurricanes through two innings.
The top of the third saw Evan McKendry’s third consecutive 1-2-3 inning of the game, and the bottom of the third would be remarkably similar to the bottom of the second. Kyle Muller took over the pitching duties from Serafino Brito to start the inning. Miami’s threat started with a one out double from Jordan Lala, and Chet Moore pushed him to third with a single. Unfortunately Moore was picked off at first, but a perfectly executed suicide squeeze scored Lala from third due to a beautiful bunt from Willy Escala. Tony Jenkins then reached base on an error that pushed Escala to third, and with Anthony Vilar at the plate Jenkins stole second. Vilar then knocked a two-RBI single through the left side of the infield. Zamora followed with yet another RBI double, which Adrian Del Castillo followed with an RBI single, his first career hit. At the end of three Miami led 12-0.
In the top of the fourth Rutgers struck back at the Hurricanes. Kevin Welsh walked to give the Scarlet Knights their first baserunner of the evening, and Luke Bowerbank knocked a grounder right up the middle that took a weird bounce off of Freddy Zamora’s glove and into the outfield. A bloop single scored Welsh from third and the score moved to 12-1 Miami.
After a quick bottom of the fourth Rutgers had their second consecutive run-scoring inning in the top of the fifth. A one out infield hit gave the Knights a baserunner, who scored on an RBI single that barely went past the outstretched glove of Willy Escala at third base. Alex Toral ran down a tough fly ball to get the second out of the inning, but an RBI double off the bat of Kevin Welsh scored Rutgers’ third and final run of the evening.
The bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth were quiet for both teams. However the bottom of the sixth saw Miami tack on yet more runs to their total. Adrian Del Castillo ripped off a lead off single that Alex Toral followed with a two run homerun to right that pushed the score to 14-3 Hurricanes.
Gregory Veliz came into the game for the Hurricanes in the top of the seventh. He walked the first two batters he faced, but worked out of the jam with a strikeout and a few well placed outs that resulted in him avoiding any damage in the inning. In the bottom of the seventh Miami pushed out the lead even further. Two walks put men on first and second for Adrian Del Castillo, and the freshman responded by driving a two-RBI double to the wall to make the score 16-3. Alex Toral and Isaac Quiñones reached on an error and a walk respectively to load the bases with one out. A passed ball scored the runner from third, and an RBI single followed by an RBI double off the bat of Ray Gil made the game 19-3.
The remaining two innings were unremarkable for both teams, and Greg Veliz finished out the top of the ninth to complete the win for Miami. It was an impressive performance for UM. Coach DiMare commented that “we wanted to set the tone for the game obviously early, but I’ve talked about setting the tone for the season and I don’t think you can draw it up any better than that.” Miami will hope to keep things rolling when Chris McMahon takes the mound at 7:00 P.M. tomorrow night.
Winning Pitcher: Evan McKendry (1-0, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K)
Losing Pitcher: Serafino Brito (0-1, 2.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 K)
Save: Greg Veliz (1)
Date & Time: Saturday, February 16, 7:00 P.M. Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Chris McMahon (1-1, 4.44 ERA)*
Rutgers Starter: Harry Rutkowski (4-6, 5.34 ERA)*
Radio: 790 The Ticket
Television: ACC Network Extra