Cecconi Shines in Sweep-Clinching Win over Rutgers
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It took a little longer than they hoped, but the Miami Hurricanes’ bats came alive on the final day of their three-game series against Rutgers, securing a sweep with a 13-6 victory over the Scarlet Knights.
The weather was unpredictable all weekend, with Game 2 halted due to inclement weather and the start of Game 3 delayed due to rain. But the Canes were hot from the moment they took the field in the series finale, scoring seven runs over the first three innings and sophomore starter Slade Cecconi was nearly unhittable in front of 2,443 fans inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
“You’ve got to make adjustments on the fly,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “I don’t recall a weekend ever in my career, opening weekend, where we just had weather kind of all over the place. We handled it. You gotta kind of deal with it. Make sure they’re mentally focused and ready. Make sure they’re loose. All those things are important. And when it comes time to play, you got to play. I thought we did a good job of that. Very, very happy with the sweep. Happy with the way we pitched, our starting pitching threw excellent. We started to swing the bat a little better as the weekend went along. All in all, a good weekend.”
Adrian Del Castillo drove in Miami’s first run of the game for the third consecutive day, singling through the right side to drive in Tony Jenkins. Raymond Gil followed with Miami’s second double of the inning and Alex Toral walked to load the bases for right fielder Gabe Rivera. Rutgers starter Tevin Murray walked Rivera, pushing home pinch runner Jared Thomas from third and doubling the Miami lead to two.
The Canes loaded the bases again with one out in the bottom of the second and that ended the day for Murray, with right-hander Parker Scott coming in after Murray hit Jordan Lala, gave up a base hit to Jenkins and walked Thomas.
Things continued to unravel for Rutgers, as Scott’s first pitch went to the backstop and Lala scored on the wild pitch. Raymond Gil smacked a hot shot to second base and Kevin Welsh could not handle it, allowing two runs to score on the fielding error and giving Miami a 5-0 lead.
“It’s always a good feeling and a good thing to get things started and heated up,” Jenkins said. “I’m just playing my role and doing what I got to do, finding ways to get on base and use my speed.”
Miami strung together three singles to open the third inning, with JP Gates’ hit to left driving home Rivera. Tyler Paige drove in Vilar on a sacrifice bunt to make it 7-0 in favor of the Hurricanes after just three innings.
Rutgers finally had some success on offense in the top of the sixth, as Peter Serruto singled to right field and ended Cecconi’s no-hit bid after 5.1 no-hit innings. The Scarlet Knights loaded the bases and Serruto scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Mike Nyisztor, but Cecconi struck out Richie Schiekofer to end the threat and limit the damage to one run allowed.
Cecconi was outstanding for Miami in his first outing of the 2020 season, earning the win after allowing just one run on two hits over six innings while striking out eight Scarlet Knights.
“I felt like I just had good command up until that last inning, started missing some spots there,” Cecconi said. “I felt like I had good command of my pitches, worked on getting ahead of guys and let the defense do the rest.”
The Canes answered back in the bottom half of the sixth, as Anthony Vilar drove home a pair of runs on his first double of the season. Vilar later scored on a wild pitch from lefty Eric Reardon that gave Miami a 10-1 advantage.
The Canes added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Serruto got those runs back with a two-run homer off of Miami reliever Alex Ruiz. Spencer Bodanza relieved Ruiz and Nyisztor hit what should have been a three-run homer, but passed Kevin Welsh on the base paths, turning it into a two-run single and an out. Two batters later, Chris Brito hit a solo homer to bring Rutgers within six, 12-6.
Miami plated its final run of the day when Josh Lauck walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. Freshman Alex Munroe threw a scoreless top of the ninth in his UM debut to close out the series sweep.
The Hurricanes return to action Wednesday, Feb. 19, when Miami hosts Kent State in its first midweek matchup of the 2020 season. First pitch between the Canes and Golden Flashes is set for 6 p.m.