The Miami Hurricanes moved to 6-2 on the season with a mid-week win over the FIU Panthers. The ‘Canes were in total control of the game until the bullpen began to struggle in the late innings, making things way closer than they should’ve been.
Both teams missed opportunities in the first inning. The Hurricanes had two men on with no outs but were too aggressive on the basepaths when Anthony Vilar tried to go home from second on a groundout, which ended the inning. The Panthers missed their chance when Jordan Lala threw out a runner trying to go to third from second on a fly out.
Miami got on the board in the top of the third. Tony Jenkins led off the inning with a beautiful bunt single and took second on a wild pitch. Jordan Lala followed with a walk, and during Lala’s at-bat Jenkins moved to second when a throw back to the bag from behind home plate sailed into the outfield. Anthony Vilar struck out, but Lala stole second during his at-bat, giving Miami men on second and third with only one out. Freddy Zamora drove both of them in with a single to right field. The Hurricanes got another man on base when Adrian Del Castillo was hit by a pitch, and Alex Toral hit a deep double to right that scored Zamora and gave Miami two men in scoring position yet again. At this point FIU made a pitching change to Will Saxton, who struck out Ray Gil for the second out. However, Saxton crossed up his catcher and the ball rolled behind home plate which allowed Del Castillo to score to make the game 4-0. Luis Tuero then struck out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the third FIU responded with a solo home run off of the bat of Austin Shenton, but Miami rallied again in the bottom of the frame. Michael Amditis started the inning with a walk, and Tony Jenkins followed with a walk of his own. The runners moved to second and third, and Jordan Lala knocked a single that scored another run for the ‘Canes. Anthony Vilar then hit a sac-fly to push another run across the plate. Lala moved to second on a balk, and after a Freddy Zamora strike out, Adrian Del Castillo knocked an RBI single that made the score 7-1.
FIU again responded in the bottom of the fourth, with another solo home run, this time off the bat of Javi Valedez.
Things stayed quiet until the top of the sixth. Jenkins singled to lead off the inning, and then stole second. Jordan Lala had a productive out: hitting a ball to deep left field that allowed Jenkins to tag-up and move to third. Anthony Vilar then hit his second sac-fly of the night and scored Jenkins to make the game 8-2.
In the top of the seventh Alex Toral and Ray Gil had an impressive display of power. They hit back to back long home runs to right and left field respectively to make the game 10-2.
Miami has 11 home runs so far this season (including the two tonight). They had 23 TOTAL last season. They have nearly halved their total from last year, and it’s only the eighth game of the season.— John Reynolds (@NextCaneUp) February 28, 2019
Continuing that trend would be a big step forward for the #Canes
In the bottom of the seventh FIU pulled themselves back into the game. A walk started the inning, but Tyler Keysor seemed to have things under control when he got a fly out to right and a strike out to retire two batters quickly. However an infield single gave FIU two runners, and a two-run, two-out double made the game 10-4. This ended Keysor’s night and Miami brought in Greg Veliz, who gave up a two-run home run that made the game 10-6 before he could end the inning.
Miami went quietly in the top of the eighth, and FIU followed with a quiet bottom of the eighth. After Miami went quickly in the top of the ninth Daniel Federman came into the game hoping for a quick inning to wrap things up. He didn’t get what he wished for however, a lead off single immediately started a rally for FIU. The single was followed by a double that put two Panthers in scoring position with nobody out. An RBI single scored a run, and all of the sudden the tying run was at the plate. A sac-fly made it 10-8, but a strike out and a line out ended the game before FIU could tie, or worse, win.
Miami had lost five of their last six against FIU heading into tonight, and this is a nice win on the road that will hopefully return Miami to consistently dominating FIU, as they should. While that was a positive, the same concerns still abound for the pitching staff, especially the bullpen. The Hurricanes need to find some consistent arms for late in games, and quickly.
Winning Pitcher: Tyler Keysor (1-0, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K)
Losing Pitcher: Franco Aleman (0-1, 2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K)
Vs UMBC Game 1
Date & Time: Friday, March 1, 7:00 P.M. Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (2-0, 2.77 ERA)
UMBC Starter: Frank Fraschetti (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Radio: 790 The Ticket
Television: ACC Network Extra