Gil Heating Up Ahead of Towson Series
By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports.
The greatest hitters in the game fail seven out of every 10 at-bats. A 30-percent success rate being considered elite proves just how challenging it is to deliver at the plate when your team needs you.
Add in the fact that pitchers are throwing harder than ever and technology has helped produced highly advanced scouting reports, and you’ll see that being a hitter in 2020 is anything but simple.
Success certainly does not come easy, but Miami’s Raymond Gil just keeps swinging.
The junior third baseman does not have gaudy numbers over the first two weeks of the 2020 season, batting just .214 over Miami’s first eight games.
“In the beginning of the season, his timing was off,” Miami hitting coach Norberto Lopez said. “So now the more pitches he sees, the more games he’s getting, the more at-bats he’s getting, the more comfortable he is. He’s starting to settle in because he’s starting to get his timing back. And when you get your timing back, you’re seeing the ball better. They’re pitching him tough because he’s hitting after [Adrian] Del Castillo. That’s a guy that’s going to get pitched to tough.”
While the statistics may not show it so far this season, Gil is a proven middle-of-the-order bat who is among the most feared hitters in the ACC and he has stuck with his process and found success recently.
“I’m just trying to produce for my team,” Gil said. “I take every at bat and try to do something that will help our team win and put us in a good situation, and I just stay with that mindset.”
The Miami native has driven in a team-leading seven runs over the Canes’ last four games, including a walk-off, two-run homer in the pouring rain on Wednesday night that sent the Hurricanes home winners over USF.
“That was a big at-bat in the ninth inning,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “You know, you’re thinking ‘oh geez, they’re going to stop the game because it’s coming down pretty good.’ And God knows how long we could sit there and they’re going to have to get back. So there’s no telling what could happen there, you could end up with a tie. And Ray Gil falls behind with two strikes and just battles, battles and hits it out of the ballpark.”
Gil’s ninth-inning heroics gave Miami its first walk-off win of the season, but the two-run blast might have had an even bigger impact as the Canes look to rebound from last week’s tough series against the rival Florida Gators.
“We’ve been preaching winning close games and it’s a good thing coming towards the weekend because now we get rolling, start a new winning streak and put Florida in the past,” Gil said.
“Nothing’s really changed, we just keep battling. We’ve always talked about if we are going to be the team we want to be, we’ve got to win close games. We didn’t win those previous three close games, but we’ve got to keep the confidence and keep fighting and know that we’re good enough to win those close games.”
Gil has two homers and seven RBI over his last 13 at-bats, showing signs that the big bat in the cleanup spot of Miami’s lineup is starting to heat up. His surge at the plate could mean bad news for the Towson Tigers, who head to Coral Gables this weekend for a three-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m.
“He’s resilient,” Lopez said. “He’s a guy that works hard. He comes out here every day and he’s not going to give up because he’s put a lot of time into it and he wants to win. Ray is a guy that wants to win, so that’s why he continues to fight. He doesn’t want to let us down. He cares about the team.”
The team’s success has always been Gil’s top priority. A Third Team All-ACC honoree in 2019, Gil posted a five-hit performance at Wake Forest and had a pair of multi-homer games on the season. He closed out his second season in Coral Gables with a strong showing in the NCAA tournament, earning All-Starkville Regional Team honors.
While Miami’s offense has been inconsistent at times over the first two weeks of the season, Gil believes the Canes are about to break out and live up to the hype surrounding a lineup that led the ACC with 85 home runs a year ago.
“I think we’ll be fine,” Gil said. “Almost everybody in the lineup is hitting balls hard and having good at-bats. Some guys just aren’t having luck and are hitting it right to people. I think if we just stay with the same approach and keep working, we will just be fine and build off of our at-bats.”
Gil had an excellent sophomore season for the Hurricanes a year ago, hitting .318 with 14 doubles, 13 homers, 39 runs scored and 44 RBI. The powerful third baseman slugged .565 – fourth-highest on team – and posted a .396 OBP, while his 121 total bases ranked second on 2019 Canes. He also ranked third on team with 18 multi-hit games and was fifth with 10 multi-RBI performances.
Miami’s third baseman has hit safely in each of the Canes’ last three games. Gil’s bat heating up will go a long way towards helping the Canes get their potent offense back to optimal performance.
“We need that badly,” Lopez said. “Due to the loss of Freddy Zamora in our lineup, which Zamora helped lengthen our lineup, having those guys like Gil and [Alex] Toral going helps us so much. That’s our heart and soul in the lineup. We need those guys to do great in order for us to have a good game and be the best team we can be.”