Baseball Outlasts Crosstown FIU, 10-8

MIAMI – The first midweek matchup between the University of Miami and crosstown FIU went in favor of the Hurricanes, 10-8.
 
The Canes (6-2) posted their third double-digit run performance of the season and they needed it, as FIU (3-4) mounted a late rally but came up short. Miami picked up a victory over the Panthers Wednesday night in front 1,923 fans, the largest crowd at FIU Baseball Stadium since a 2006 matchup against Miami.
 
“There’s ugly wins and there’s UGLY wins and that was an ugly, ugly win,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “You’re happy you won, but that’s an ugly, ugly win.”
 
Miami got on the scoreboard first, as shortstop Freddy Zamora smacked a two-run single to the right side that drove home Tony Jenkins and Jordan Lala and put the Hurricanes ahead, 2-0, in the third.
 
After Adrian Del Castillo was hit by a pitch, Alex Toral ripped a one-out double to the wall in right field that pushed home Zamora and gave the Canes runners on second and third with a 3-0 lead in the third. 
 
Toral’s double also knocked FIU starter Franco Aleman out of the game. The freshman right-hander took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits over 2.1 innings. Aleman issued three walks and recorded four strikeouts against the Hurricanes.
 
Del Castillo rounded out the scoring in the top of the third, coming in on a wild pitch from lefty reliever Will Saxton to give Miami starter Slade Cecconi a 4-0 lead. But the Panthers answered right back, as third baseman Austin Shenton hit a solo homer on the first pitch of the bottom of the third to cut the lead to three, 4-1.
 
Miami added on in the fourth, scoring three runs after opening the inning with a pair of walks. Reliever Christian Dearman replaced Saxton after he walks Michael Amditis and Jenkins to kick off the inning. Lala ripped an RBI single, Vilar hit a sacrifice fly to right and and Del Castillo laced a RBI single to center to give Miami a six-run lead.
 
For the second straight inning, an FIU player led off with a homer. Catcher Javier Valdes jumped on a fastball from Cecconi and hit it over the left field fence for the second homer of the night by a Panther.
 
Tyler Keysor replaced Cecconi in the fifth inning and earned his first victory as a Hurricane after throwing 2.2 innings of relief. The junior right-hander held FIU scoreless over his first two innings before allowing three runs in the final frame. Keysor has three strikeouts and one walk, while allowing three hits in his appearance.
 
“I thought he was huge,” DiMare said. “These guys swing the bat a little bit and they always have. Tyler came in and I thought he did a great job of mixing his pitches. His fastball, he did a great job of keeping it down. We didn’t get a lot of groundball outs today and when they did hit groundballs we didn’t defend them. His split worked good and he got some strikeouts. His box score doesn’t show it right, but he pitched much better than that.”
 
Cecconi’s night ended after allowing two runs on four hits over four innings. Cecconi, who struggled with his command all night, had four walks and four strikeouts while throwing 84 pitches in his second collegiate start.
 
In the sixth, Vilar pushed home Jenkins on a sacrifice fly for the second time in the game and gave the Hurricanes a 8-2 lead.
 
The Canes hit back-to-back homers with one out in the seventh inning, as Toral mashed his team-leading sixth homer of the year and one pitch later Raymond Gil destroyed a solo homer to left that landed on the soccer field beyond the outfield wall to make it 10-2 Canes.
 
“It’s a good balance,” Dimare said. We have guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, which is a good, quick way to score. Then we have other guys who can manufacture runs. … I thought we played good situational baseball. I thought we played good station-to-station baseball. We stole a couple bases. My concern is our defense. We’ve got to do a better job with our defense in all phases and that’s one thing we are going to talk about tomorrow as coaches.”
 
FIU added four more runs in the seventh, as Valdes hit a two-run double to end Keysor’s night. One batter later, pinch hitter Seth Cannady hit the first pitch he saw from Greg Veliz over the fence in left for a two-run homer that cut Miami’s lead to four.
 
“The one inning where it was 10 to two and it changes the whole complexion of the game,” DiMare said. “We had two outs and we had an easy ground ball and for whatever reason lost our focus and next thing you know they put up for runs. That’s baseball. You’ve got to stay focused. It obviously gave them life and then the mentality for them becomes that they’re back in that ballgame and they shouldn’t have been in that ballgame with us up 10-2.”
 
The Panthers picked up two more in the ninth off reliever Daniel Federman, opening the inning with three straight singles. But the sophomore right-hander settled down to wrap up the 10-8 victory for Miami.
 
The Hurricanes will host UMBC in a weekend series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m., while Sunday’s series finale will start at 1 p.m.