Hurricanes right-handed starter Jake Smith took the mound on Tuesday looking to keep Miami’s undefeated record against midweek opponents alive in 2021.
Earning the first win of his career as a Hurricane, the sophomore helped lead his team to 7-0 on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s.
A distributed offensive attack gave Miami (23-13, 14-12 ACC) a lead to never look back on, while holding Florida Gulf Coast (22-15) to three total hits at Mark Light Field.
“We’ve been really good in midweek [competition], we gotta carry that consistency over to the weekend but midweeks are tough if you look around the country,” Hurricanes coach Gino DiMare said. “It starts on the mound and Jake did a great job there giving us three innings, we knew we were going to throw a lot of guys. I thought our bullpen did an excellent job.”
A three-run onslaught in the first inning proved to be the difference maker.
On just the second pitch of the contest, Hurricanes leadoff hitter in left fielder Jordan Lala blasted a solo home run to right field off of Eagles starter Gus Carter.
The 1-0 advantage did not keep UM from piling on, however.
Adrian Del Castillo, playing in right field for the first game since 2019, hit an RBI double to left to score third baseman Yohandy Morales. A single to left field from designated hitter Raymond Gil then brought Del Castillo, as UM led 3-0.
After allowing FGCU just one hit through three innings, Smith was lifted in place of former weekend starter in Victor Mederos, who relinquished only two hits across two innings.
UM also hit .364 against Carter, a left-hander who fell to 0-3 in the loss.
“We did a good job putting up three [runs] in the first inning, I thought we did a great job swinging the bat in general,” DiMare said. “Anytime you get 10 hits as a team that’s a good thing, we played pretty solid defense … All in all, a pretty complete game for our guys.”
FGCU saw first baseman Joe Kinker connect on his first two at-bats, singling to left field once again in the top of the fourth. Right fielder Stephen Wilmer and designated hitter Ian Farrow each flied out to left field to leave the utility man stranded, however.
Reliever Spencer Bodanza got out of a jam unscathed in the top of the sixth, after quickly retiring the first two batters. Shortstop Richie Garcia scored on an error committed by Morales and Kinker worked a full-count walk, though Bodanza fanned Wilmer, also on a payoff pitch.
“Today I’d like to say we did a pretty good job of throwing strikes,” DiMare said. “They did hit quite a few fly balls. I always like to see balls on the ground, but Florida Gulf Coast is a team, if you look at their stats, they hit a lot of fly balls, so they get the ball up in the air. But for the most part, I thought they did a good job of pounding the zone.”
Having gone down quietly in the fifth, Miami tacked on two runs the following frame. Catcher Carlos Perez scorched an RBI single to third base to score center fielder Christian Del Castillo, initially hit by a pitch. Gil scored on a wild pitch of Eagles reliever Tyler Shuck’s for Miami’s final run of the day.
“Carlos caught really [well] up in North Carolina, and I thought he swung the bat well,” DiMare said. “He’s very talented, he’s going to be a very good player for us … We’ve been happy watching him swing the bat; it’s just hard to get him in the lineup.”
Though Gil advanced to third after singling up the middle, Miami’s hitting did not fully reappear. Perez struck out swinging and shortstop Dominic Pitelli grounded out.
Other bullpen arms in sophomores Anthony Arguelles and Alex McFarlane, as well as freshman Andrew Walters, each saw one inning of relief action late. The trio combined to prevent the Eagles from marking another hit, allowing two walks.
“That’s a positive today was getting a lot of these guys in there to throw an inning or two, other than Jake who threw three,” DiMare said. “They’ll all be ready for the weekend.”
The Hurricanes will hit the road for its second-to-last road series of the season starting on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.