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Miami evens series with Virginia Tech in shutout victory

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The Hurricanes answered the bell on Saturday after a wake-up call against the Hokies on Friday night.

Kent State at Miami
Hurricanes catcher Adrian Del Castillo hits a two-run single vs. Kent State at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Florida.
David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

After having their 11-game winning streak to Virginia Tech snapped on Friday night, the Miami Hurricanes took the field Saturday looking to at least even their first ACC series.

Freshman starting pitcher Alejandro Rosario struck out seven Hokies batters in the same number of innings while only allowing one walk and three hits, making himself feel right at home at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Florida.

“Obviously the pitching set the tone, Alejandro was outstanding,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “I think we got eight out of the nine leadoff guys out during the game. He was pretty dominant, the fastball was explosive [but he remains] still a work-in-progress with the off-speed, but it is getting better and when it does, I mean it’s gonna be really amazing. This guy’s just a dominant pitcher, their coach [John Szefc] after the game told me it’s the best arm he’s ever seen since he’s been in the ACC.”

Redshirt sophomore third baseman Adam Frank, a Fairleigh Dickinson transfer, punched in two RBIs in three at bats, and the Hurricanes (3-2, 1-1 ACC) shutout the Hokies 3-0 for their first conference win of the 2021 season.

“It definitely felt good,” said Frank on his first start. “This team is very good, so I was lucky to be able to start today. I was waiting for my opportunity, it came up in a big situation, and I’m glad I was able to get the job done.”

Frank said that he saw his name in the lineup and remained mentally prepared to start for Raymond Gil. The Saddle Brook, N.J. native hit his first RBI right up the middle in the bottom of the first inning and remains a versatile option for DiMare, being able to fill slots at second base, third base, and the corner outfield.

“Always great for a guy getting his first hit as a Cane and his first RBI,” DiMare said. “I told him I’d like for him to get a better at-bat the next time he came up, we had a guy on third base less than two outs, and he did not have a very good at-bat. But he’s been a guy [who] has swung the bat well for us in the fall and spring, [having] been one of the more consistent hitters. Finding a place for him to play in the field has been a little difficult, and so we’ve played him a little at second, third, and even some outfield, but even more in the infield, so that’s where’s he’s gonna get his opportunities.”

Alex Rodriguez Park remained socially distanced despite a sell-out crowd of over 600 fans who had waited 11 months to see one of Miami’s most storied athletic teams take the diamond once again. The familiar chants of “Rag-arm” and “walk him” still simmered amongst a diminished Mark Light Mob that heavily anticipated Rosario’s first home start.

“It felt good knowing that my team backed me up and I had their backs in just going out there and competing and helping them win the series tomorrow,” said Rosario on his shutout performance in his first home start at Miami.

Despite experiencing a struggle to finish the top of the seventh inning, the Miami native felt notably better about his second outing in comparison to when he first threw in Gainesville, Florida against the No. 1 Gators a week ago.

“I’d say this start I was probably more myself, the first start I was trying to do too much in my first inning,” Rosario said. “After my first inning, I got in a groove and here I just carried my second inning into this start. Anytime you face adversity, you always want to come out on top and he [Miami pitching coach JD Arteaga] just came out and said ‘Relax, you’re in control and make a pitch,’ and that’s what I did.”

Despite a first-inning onslaught of three runs against Virginia Tech left-handed starter Chris Gerard (1-1), the Canes remained scoreless for the following eight innings as six runners were left on base. Second baseman Anthony Vilar struck out thrice and nobody logged more than two hits on the evening.

“We’ve gotta be able to do a better job with the guys they’re bringing out,” DiMare said. “We’re still working on the lineup; we’re still trying to figure it out you saw we played a few different guys. The word I use is ‘taxing,’ we gotta put more pressure on pitchers, so that’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

Miami and Virginia Tech face off in the rubber game on Sunday at 1 p.m. from Mark Light Field.