Canes Ride McKendry's Complete Game To 6-1 Victory
CLEMSON, S.C. – There was no drama in this one, but the Hurricanes were surely content with the outcome just the same.
Miami cruised to a 6-1 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader Saturday at No. 8 Clemson, clinching a series victory over the Tigers after needing a thrilling ninth-inning comeback in Friday’s series opener.
Thanks largely to a complete game effort from sophomore righthander Evan McKendry, Miami captured its fourth straight series win over the Tigers and won its 10thstraight regular-season game against its Atlantic Division counterpart.
“It was a great game for us,” head coach Jim Morris said. “To me, I think Clemson is the toughest place to play in the conference on the road, I always say that. To win the first two games is outstanding.”
The Hurricanes, who scored eight runs in the ninth inning Friday to come back from an 11-3 deficit, received a gem from McKendry at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“It was huge for us to save our bullpen,” Morris said. “First complete game of this year, just a big outing from McKendry.”
McKendry struck out five batters, scattered six hits, and kept Clemson in check in his 121-pitch masterpiece. The nine innings was a new career long for McKendry and was the first nine-inning complete game since Jeb Bargfeldt did the same in Game 1 of a doubleheader last May at Virginia.
The win improved UM’s record to 12-2 over Clemson in its last 14 head-to-head matchups dating to 2012. Miami will go for the series sweep of Clemson at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“There are a lot of guys that contributed to this. It’s a team thing,” Morris said. “Guys played well. A lot of the guys got some big hits. 19 hits last night and eight more today. We played pretty good defense, too.”
After struggling in his previous two starts, McKendry was dominant from the outset Saturday afternoon against a talented Tigers lineup.
The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native shut out the Tigers (25-10, 10-7) for six innings before the hosts finally cracked the scoreboard in the seventh with the Hurricanes ahead 5-0.
McKendry said a tweak in between last week’s start versus North Carolina and Saturday’s outing against Clemson was the key.
“Over the past week, [pitching coach] J.D. [Arteaga] and I worked on staying through the ball,” McKendry said. “The past couple of starts, I’ve been falling off to much. Although my off-speed stuff wasn’t there at all today, my fastball had good sink because I was staying behind the ball. I was really relying on that today.”
Though he struck out just five, McKendry was efficient in a game where Miami needed it; the Hurricanes used five pitchers Friday and had another game coming up later in the day.
Miami did most of its damage in a four-run fourth in support of its sophomore righthander.
A two-RBI double from junior Romy Gonzalez opened the game’s scoring and chased Clemson starter Brooks after just three-plus innings.
With the bases loaded after a single from freshman Willy Escala and walks from freshmen Gabe Rivera and Isaac Quinones, Gonzalez chopped a pitch from Crawford over the head of Clemson third baseman Patrick Cromwell and into shallow left field.
Clemson reliever Spencer Strider entered in relief with his team trailing 2-0, and the Hurricanes (15-19, 9-8 ACC) tacked on runs on an RBI groundout from senior Michael Burns and a sacrifice fly from senior Hunter Tackett.
Escala reached base for the 15thstraight game with his fourth-inning single.
Crawford (3-2) was charged with the loss after allowing four runs. He struck out one, walked two and scattered three hits across 49 pitches before being relieved.
Four runs seemed more than enough for McKendry (5-4), who was masterful in his precision during the game’s middle innings.
The righthander needed just eight pitches to retire the side in the third, 10 more in the fourth, 13 in the fifth and 10 more in the sixth.
“They’re a veteran team, they’re pretty experienced,” McKendry said. “They were able to put the ball in play. If I made a bad 0-2 pitch, they were right on it. My off-speed wasn’t great, but even when I did throw good pitches, they were on it.”
Miami used some small ball to push its lead to 5-0 in the sixth. Gonzalez reached on a fielding error and took third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Burns, who singled to right.
After a walk from Tackett loaded the bases, catcher Michael Amditis plated a run with a groundout to short off Clemson reliever Owen Griffith to add to Miami’s lead.
Clemson cracked the scoreboard on an infield single from Kyle Wilkie that scored Cromwell, who doubled with one out earlier in the inning. With two runners on and two outs, McKendry buckled down to induce an inning-ending groundout and maintain his team’s four-run lead.
Miami padded its lead back to five runs in the next half-inning on an RBI single from Alex Toral that scored Amditis.
The Hurricanes return to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field for a five-game homestand beginning Wednesday, April 18 against FGCU. First pitch for the contest, slated for broadcast on ACC Network Extra and WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 6 p.m.