DiMare Leads Canes to Historic Win over Rutgers, 19-3
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami baseball team opened the Gino DiMare era with a record-setting victory over Rutgers on Friday night.
The Hurricanes (1-0) dominated Rutgers (0-1) for a 19-3 victory on opening night inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The 19-run performance set a record for runs scored on opening day against a Division I opponent, surpassing a 17-3 win over FIU on Jan. 28, 2006.
“I feel happy about the game and I know our players have to feel good about it; they have to feel confident,” DiMare said. “It’s the most runs we’ve ever scored in an opener against a D1 team. That’s a lot of openers and it’s the most we’ve ever scored. We’ve played Rutgers many a times and we’ve struggled with them at times over the years. Certainly, you feel good about the game.”
Miami’s offense was impressive from the start, as shortstop Freddy Zamora crushed a 3-1 pitch from Rutgers starter Serafino Brito to the wall in left-center for an RBI double. Freshman Anthony Vilar, who worked a walk in his debut plate appearance, scored easily from first and the Canes had their first run of the 2019 season just three batters into the game.
“We wanted to set the tone for the game obviously early, but I’ve talked about setting the tone for the season and I don’t think you can draw it up any better than that,” DiMare said.” We absolutely set the tone in the first inning. We went three up, three down and then put some runs on the board in the first inning.”
The Hurricanes broke it open with a six-run second inning that featured a two-run triple by Willy Escala, an RBI double by Vilar and was capped by a two-run homer by Zamora that cleared the scoreboard in left field.
“I definitely noticed the ball was jumping off the bat more than it did last year,” Zamora said. “It’s all about approach at the plate and getting a good pitch to hit, a pitch to drive, and I think I did a good job of that today.”
Miami hitters had 20 hits on Friday night, but were especially successful with runners on base (14–for29) and with runners in scoring position (11-for-20).
“Overall a good start, ” DiMare said. “I’m happy that we swung the bat because that’s kind of been our nemesis the last few years and we’ve been working really hard on trying to improve on that. I’ve been looking forward to watching us play for a while now against somebody else and I am looking forward to moving forward here and getting better.”
After driving a ball to the wall an inning earlier to send two runners home, Escala drove in his third run of the night with a perfectly placed safety squeeze that allowed Lala to score easily from third and give Miami an 8-0 lead. Two batters later, Vilar battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before smacking a two-run single to left that put the Canes up double-digits.
With Vilar, Del Castillo, Lala and Moore, the Hurricanes started four freshmen on opening night and all four recorded their first hits as Hurricanes. Freshman Luis Tuero and junior Chad Crosbie also had their first hits at The U on Friday night.
“The freshmen guys didn’t seem overwhelmed at all,” DiMare said. “They seemed very calm and I was very happy to see that because this is a big deal. These are local guys a lot of them. Vilar grew up right here in this ballpark. There’s got to be a little something going on before your first opportunity to play here.”
Hurricanes’ ace Evan McKendry earned his first win of the season in impressive fashion. The junior right-hander held Rutgers to three runs on four hits over six innings while striking out eight and walking just one. McKendry retired the first 10 hitters he faced and did not allow a hit until Rutgers’ 13thbatter of the night.
“It was awesome, I mean a dream come true,” McKendry said. “I always wanted to be the Friday night here. It was just a great experience.”
Rutgers scratched a run across in the top of the fourth, making Miami pay for an error that could have ended the inning. With one on and one out, Zamora could not handle a chopper up the middle by Luke Bowerbank that gave the Scarlet Knights runners on the corners. Instead of a potential inning-ending double play, Chris Brito followed with a bloop single to right that sent Kevin Welsh home for Rutgers’ first run of the game.
The Scarlet Knights added two more to their tally in the fifth, as Kevin Blum snuck a one-out double just inside the third base line to drive home David Soto. Two batters later, Welsh doubled to right to push home Blum.
Miami added two more runs in the sixth, as Alex Toral crushed a two-run homer deep to right to give the Hurricanes a 14-3 advantage.
The Canes tacked on five more runs in the seventh to close out the scoring, as Raymond Gil capped the rally with an RBI double to left, and Greg Veliz wrapped up a three-inning save.
“I got to think the guys leaving the ballpark today have to feel very good about themselves,” DiMare said. “Of course, I just got done telling them, ‘don’t pat yourself on the back. It’s one game.’ It’s a great start and it’s a great tone setter. Baseball is a crazy game. We could come back tomorrow and it could be a 2-1 game.”
Miami is back in action Saturday night for Game 2 of the three-game series against Rutgers. Sophomore right-hander Chris McMahon will start for the Hurricanes opposite sophomore lefty Harry Rutkowski for the Scarlet Knights. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.