Slade Cecconi worked seven innings of run-one baseball to propel Miami to their 14th win of the season and fifth mid-week win of the year Wednesday night. Cecconi and the rest of the pitching staff dominated to secure Miami’s first two-game mid-week sweep of the season.
The Hurricanes offense got off to a quick start, scoring off of an Alex Toral RBI fielder’s choice in the first inning. However, after that early run, the Hurricanes really struggled at the plate and didn’t get their first hit of the game until the bottom of the fifth. Gino DiMare even held a team meeting before the bottom of the fourth in the dugout to refocus a team that was clearly not playing at their best level.
While Miami struggled at the plate the Tigers took advantage, manufacturing a run off of a delayed steal of home in the top of the third. Jackson State gave Miami trouble on the basepaths all series, and the ‘Canes need to be able to control things both from the mound and behind the plate going forward. Slade Cecconi managed to pick off two runners at first during the game. However, opposing teams are 12 for 14 when stealing bases against the Hurricanes this season, for a .857 percentage. That has to get better as the ‘Canes get deeper into ACC play.
Fortunately, in the bottom of the fifth Miami responded. Jordan Lala started the inning by getting hit by a pitch and stole second with one out. Jackson State then chose to intentionally walk reigning ACC Player of the Week Freddy Zamora to bring Adrian Del Castillo to the plate. Del Castillo continued to build his reputation as a clutch bat by knocking a ball just under the glove of the diving center fielder for Miami’s first hit of the day, an RBI single. Alex Toral then changed the game with one swing of the bat by launching a three-run home-run to right to make the score 5-1.
Miami added a run in each of the next three frames. In the bottom of the sixth Jordan Lala walked and Anthony Vilar followed him with a walk of his own. Adrian Del Castillo then hit his second RBI single of the afternoon to score the ‘Canes sixth run. The bottom of the seventh saw another run score after Dylan Cloonan continued his hot streak with a single and was driven in by Chad Crosbie. The Hurricanes eighth run came in the eighth inning after Willy Escala walked and was driven in by Tyler Paige when he knocked a double to the left field corner.
Meanwhile, on the mound, Mark Mixon and JP Gates shut down the Jackson State lineup to wrap up the win. Mid-week games are hugely important and despite not playing particularly well in either game the Hurricanes finish this series at 2-0 for the week.
Now Miami faces an angry North Carolina team that comes home to Chapel Hill after being swept by the Clemson Tigers last weekend. No series is easy in the ACC, but this weekend’s set will undoubtedly be one of the most difficult of the season for the ‘Canes.
Winning Pitcher: Slade Cecconi (3-0, 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)
Losing Pitcher: Mario Lopez (0-3, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)
At No.15 North Carolina Game 1
Date & Time: Friday, March 15, 6:00 P.M. Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (3-0, 2.88 ERA)
Tar Heels Starter: Gianluca Dalatri (1-0, 1.14 ERA)
Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM
Television: ACC Network Extra