No. 21 Canes Smash Bethune-Cookman, 13-5
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Hurricanes scored early and often Sunday afternoon, beating Bethune-Cookman 13-5 to secure No. 21 Miami’s fifth weekend sweep of the season.
The Canes (34-14) got major contributions from some of their youngest players, as freshmen combined for seven hits and eight runs batted in. JP Gates drove in a career-best four runs, while Adrian Del Castillo and Anthony Vilar each had two RBI to help Miami beat the Wildcats (16-35) and move to 20 games over .500 on the season.
“These are my kind of guys,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “I like the way they play the game. They are very tough kids and they’re going to battle to the end and they’re very talented, too. It’s a great combination. We’re very fortunate to have them and I’m looking forward to coaching them for at least a few more years.”
Miami scored in six of eight innings on Sunday afternoon, but it was Bethune-Cookman who got on the scoreboard first thanks to a pair of defensive miscues in the opening inning that helped the Wildcats score a run.
Leadoff hitter Clarence Carter reached on a throwing error by third baseman Raymond Gil and advanced to third when first baseman Alex Toral missed a pickoff attempt by pitcher Tyler Keysor. The two-base error put Carter 90 feet away from home plate and the BCU third baseman scored on a sacrifice fly by Nate Sterijevski that gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 advantage.
“It’s been a think all year, but we’re just working hard every day to try to limit those,” Vilar said of the errors. “Luckily, our offense has been hot the whole year and it’s been helping with that but we’re going to keep working hard and trying to not make as many errors and have a good, clean game throughout the rest of the season.”
Miami’s offense charged back with a four-run bottom of the first that featured doubles by Jordan Lala, Vilar and Alex Toral. Lala got things started with a leadoff double and scored on Vilar’s line drive just inside the third base line. Gates hit a sac fly to drive in Vilar and Del Castillo scored on a base hit by Michael Amditis before Toral crushed a ball off the top of the wall for an RBI double to cap the rally.
“We try to treat every game the same,” Vilar said. “Any team we play, we try to play to the best of our ability and play every game like it’s our last. We are trying to win every game because that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
The Canes knocked Bethune-Cookman starter Isaak Gutierrez out of the game in the top of the second, as Vilar drove in Lala for the second time in as many innings to make it 5-1. Gutierrez walked Del Castillo before being replaced by right-hander Jordan Pinto and Gates welcomed the reliever to The Light with a three-run opposite field homer to put Miami ahead 8-1.
“It’s the most important part of the year and we’re trying to finish strong,” Gates said. We’re trying to win as many games as we can. We treat these games like any other games we have played before. We’re coming out to win just like any other game.”
The Wildcats took advantage of another defensive blunder by the Canes in the fourth, as a Gil throwing error gave BCU runners on first and second with one out. After Joseph Strong singled to load the bases, Silas Grinstead drove in Chase DeBonis with a sacrifice fly to left to make it 8-2. Miami finished with four errors for the second consecutive game.
“We will not get to where we need to go if we don’t play better defense,” DiMare said. “You just can’t you can’t keep doing that against the type of teams that we expect to play because we expect to be playing deep into this thing.”
Miami got that run back in the bottom of the inning thanks to an RBI single by Amditis and picked up two more in the fifth after Del Castillo and Gil each hit a sacrifice fly to center that gave the Hurricanes an 11-2 advantage.
Keysor, who earned his sixth win of the season, allowed just two unearned runs on four hits while tying a career-high with seven strikeouts over a career-long six innings. The junior was replaced on the mound by Gates, who threw a scoreless inning to become the first Hurricane to throw a scoreless inning and homer in a game since Dennis Raben in 2007.
“I thought Tyler threw very well,” DiMare said. “I think Tyler has thrown very well going back to three or four of his last outings he’s thrown well so that was good to see there especially with some of our pitchers being down and being able to pick up the slack as a starter.”
Del Castillo delivered another RBI in the seventh, ripping a single to center that pushed home Lala and gave the freshman 59 RBI on the season. Del Castillo’s 59 runs batted in tied Zack Collins for the most by a Hurricane since 2016 and they are the most by a Miami freshman since Yonder Alonso drove in 69 runs in 2006.
The Canes scored their final run in the bottom of the eighth, as Gates scored on an RBI groundout by Isaac Quiñones that pushed home Gates after the Miami freshman hit a leadoff triple to open the inning.
Bethune-Cookman showed some fight in the top of the ninth, scoring three runs against freshman lefty Bailey Mantilla, but sophomore lefty Jeremy Cook entered to record the final out of the game and clinch the series sweep for Miami.
The Hurricanes will close out an eight-game homestand on Wednesday vs. UCF. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.