Miami moved to 16-9 (3-6 ACC) with a win over the Florida Atlantic Owls Wednesday night. The ‘Canes moved out to a big early lead, but let the Owls back into the game before pushing nine runs across over the last three innings to earn the victory.
The Hurricanes got off to a quick start, posting five runs in the first inning and two in the second. Jordan Lala led off the game with a home run, and Anthony Vilar followed him with a double. Vilar was driven in by Adrian Del Castillo, and two more runs scored when Ray Gil knocked a home run to left field. Alex Toral followed with a home run of his own on the very next pitch to wrap up the scoring in the first. Toral has twelve home runs on the season, more than half the total of Miami’s entire team in 2018, and the same amount as weekend opponent Pitt has as a team.
In the second Jordan Lala knocked his second hit of the day into right field, and Anthony Vilar followed with a single of his own, which pushed Lala to third. Freddy Zamora knocked a sac-fly to score Lala and after Adrian Del Castillo walked, Vilar scored on an RBI single from Ray Gil.
Slade Cecconi moved through his first two innings with ease with the comfort of the big lead, but he began to struggle in the bottom of the third. Two consecutive hits, a double and a single, led to FAU scoring their first run of the evening.
Miami struggled at the plate during the middle innings, and after Cecconi breezed through the fourth he began to really struggle in the fifth. A double and two home runs gave FAU three runs in the frame and made the score 7-4. Surprisingly, Cecconi came out to pitch the sixth and the ‘Canes narrowly avoided giving up the lead. A walk and a double gave FAU two men in scoring position with one out, and JP Gates came in to pitch for Miami after starting the game in the batting order as the DH. Gates gave up a two-RBI single before getting an out and being replaced by Albert Maury Jr., so he could continue to bat as the DH. Maury struggled to control his pitches at first but got out of the inning with the lead still intact.
Fortunately, Miami put up their second five run inning of the game in the top of the seventh to extend the lead. Two singles from Anthony Vilar and Adrian Del Castillo gave Miami two men on with one out. Two consecutive walks to Ray Gil and Alex Toral scored a run for Miami and JP Gates knocked a two-RBI double to left field to continue his hot streak and make the game 10-6. Gabe Rivera then knocked an RBI single right back up the middle that put Gates on third, and as Rivera tried to steal second the throw went into the outfield to allow Gates to score from third to make the score 12-6.
Miami added on three more runs in the eighth and another run on top of that in the ninth. Anthony Vilar and Freddy Zamora reached to start the inning on a single and a walk respectively. Vilar reached third on Zamora’s hit and scored on a delayed steal when Freddy Zamora stole second. Ray Gil then launched his second home run of the night to make the game 15-6 at the end of eight. The ‘Canes pushed the lead out to an even ten when Gabe Rivera scored on a wild pitch in the ninth.
On the mound Jeremy Cook and Mark Mixon pitched clean innings in the eighth and ninth to prevent a similar comeback to the one earlier in the game. Anthony Vilar seems to have found his groove again in the second spot in the order and Ray Gil has seemingly recaptured the power he had earlier in the season based off of the performances they had tonight. This was a huge win for the ‘Canes to get on the road ahead of an ACC series at Pitt this weekend that they could very easily sweep.
Winning Pitcher: Slade Cecconi (4-1, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K)
Losing Pitcher: Ryan Sandberg (0-2, 0.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 0 K)
@ Pittsburgh Game 1
Date & Time: Friday, March 29, 6:00 P.M. Eastern
Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (4-1, 4.14 ERA)
Pittsburgh Starter: Opener
Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM
Television: ACC Network Extra