McKendry Fans Career-High 10 in Win Over FGCU

McKendry Fans Career-High 10 in Win Over FGCU
By Camron Ghorbi

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Freshman righthander Evan McKendry put together the best start of his young career to lead Miami to a 5-1 win over FGCU Tuesday night at Mark Light Field.

In the opener of a four-game homestand to close its regular season, McKendry (4-2) fanned a career-high 10 batters across seven shutout innings, tying a career-long outing.

“I felt good. I had a good bullpen before the game,” McKendry said. “The first couple of innings, I had trouble controlling my fastball. Once I got that settled, I dug in. Great defensive plays behind me made it a lot easier.”

Junior Carl Chester connected on his fourth home run of the season and Miami out-hit the visitors, 8-3, in front of 2,215 fans.

“It was a big win for us. Every win right now is very, very important,” head coach Jim Morris said. “To see McKendry go out and pitch the game he pitched is very, very important going into the [ACC] tournament and trying to figure out the rotation from that point.”

It was the second straight start McKendry went seven innings. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native walked two, surrendered just two hits and did not allow an Eagles batter to reach as far as second base, helping Miami salvage the season series.

The Hurricanes (26-26) struck first Tuesday, jumping ahead 3-0 in the third inning on a bases-clearing double from redshirt senior Edgar Michelangeli.

FGCU (34-17) starter Peyton Gray got the first two outs of the inning, but ran into trouble when he walked senior Johnny Ruiz, allowed a single to sophomore Romy Gonzalez and hit junior Hunter Tackett with a pitch to load the bases.

Michelangeli converted on the scoring chance, driving an 0-2 off-speed offering from Gray (3-3) into the right-center gap to plate all three runs.

Chester’s solo shot off Gray pushed Miami’s lead to 4-0.

“[McKendry] kept putting zeroes up, and once we got those three runs – Edgar’s big double – it was huge for us,” Chester said. “We just kept tacking it on from there.”

That was more than enough support for McKendry, who was sharp from the outset Tuesday.

McKendry struck out multiple batters in three of the first four innings en route to the second double-digit strikeout performance by a Hurricane hurler this year.

“It helps us going into a big weekend, the last weekend of ACC play,” McKendry said. “Hopefully we can play well this weekend and carry this one into Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”

Gray was tagged for five hits and four runs in 5.0 innings. He struck out five batters, walked three, hit two batters and threw 89 pitches.

FGCU cracked the scoreboard with an unearned run off reliever Andrew Cabezas in the eighth inning on an RBI groundout from Nick Rivera.

Sophomore Frankie Bartow entered in the ninth and pitched a clean inning to seal the victory.

“I’m trying to keep the guys relaxed, play and go at it every day one game at a time, and play hard,” Morris said. “I think our guys are playing hard.”

The Hurricanes will close out their regular season with a three-game series against Virginia Tech from May 18-20. First pitch for the series opener, slated for broadcast on ACC Network Extra and 560 WQAM, is set for 7 p.m.

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