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Canes Pummel Panthers at FIU

by David Villavicencio

MIAMI – Facing a crosstown rival, the Miami Hurricanes flexed their muscles to pound FIU on Wednesday night.

The No. 20 Canes crushed the Panthers, 21-1, inside FIU Baseball Stadium, posting the second-largest margin of victory over FIU and matching the most runs scored by the Canes since 2015.

“A game like this has to build confidence in your hitters,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “You can tell some of the things that we were doing wrong, we addressed them and still have got a long way to go but that’s the beauty of a season. You get better and better and hopefully, you’re at your best and you’re clicking on all cylinders at the end of the season. It’s a good start.”

Miami got right to work offensively against FIU starter Jermaine Vanheyningen, as leadoff hitter Jordan Lala opened the game with a homer just inside the left field foul pole that put the Canes up, 1-0.

The Canes broke out their bats in the third inning, plating five runs against reliever Everett Hurst. Miami posted five consecutive hits to open the inning, with Anthony Vilar starting the rally with a base hit up the middle. Yohandy Morales, Adrian Del Castillo, Christian Del Castillo, Alex Toral and Dominic Pitelli each drove in runs in the third.

Morales tripled in the fourth, driving in Vilar, and scored when the throw to third got away into the FIU dugout.

An inning later, Gabe Rivera hit a solo shot off the batter’s eye that started a six-run rally by the Hurricanes.

“I like what I’m seeing with some of the guys,” DiMare said. “There’s no doubt we still have room for improvement, but it’s got to feel good to them when you’re working on some things and they see immediate results in a positive way like this. Everybody’s got to feel confident about it.”

A three-run double by Adrian Del Castillo cleared the bases and led a four-run top of the sixth. An inning later, Jared Thomas pinch hit for Adrian and walked with the bases loaded to make it 19-0.

Miami added two more runs in the ninth, as Tony Jenkins and Chad Born had RBI singles to cap the scoring for the Canes. The 21 runs were the most scored by Miami since plating 21 against Columbia on June 1, 2015.

“It’s great when you put a lot of runs on the board like we did and then we come back and have shutdown innings,” DiMare said. “Those innings are huge where we put up four, five or six runs and come back and put a zero up.”

Miami starter Jake Garland tossed six strong innings against the Panthers, scattering five hits and striking out three batters without allowing a run.

“We got a lot of ground balls which is what Jake does,” DiMare said. “We got some double plays. Our infield did a really good job and made some really nice plays. [Jose Izarra] made a spectacular play at the end of the game and it was nice to see a swing the bat too. I feel like we haven’t swung the bat nearly as good as our team can and although we may not have seen their best guys, it’s a midweek game and you’ve still got to swing the bat against guys that are midweek games. I’m liking what I’m seeing with our hitters.”

Alex McFarlane replaced Garland on the mound and FIU manufactured a run against the second-year right-hander. Francis Villaman drove in David Judge with a sacrifice fly to center that erased the shutout bid.

Andrew Walters retired the side in order in the eighth and Nicholas Regalado did the same in the ninth, closing out the second-largest margin of victory over FIU in the history of the crosstown rivalry.

The Canes return to Mark Light Field this weekend, hosting Duke in a three-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m.