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The Miami Hurricanes (7-2) overcame some questionable defense to defeat UMBC (2-2) 8-2 on Friday night. Evan McKendry pitched a gem only allowing three hits and striking out eight. Both runs he allowed were unearned.
The first inning started off rough for the Canes as they committed two errors to allow UMBC to take a 1-0 lead. Anthony Vilar couldn’t handle what should’ve been a double play and a few batters later, Freddy Zamora bobbled a chopper that allowed the run to score.
“I don’t know if it’s a lack of focus or what,” head coach Gina DiMare said on the fielding performance early. “You can’t do that. We worked a lot on defense in practice yesterday. We didn’t even hit. We’re better than what we show, it’s just a lack of focus and concentration.”
The Hurricanes showed their resilience though. Leadoff hitter Jordan Lala drew a four pitch walk to start the inning and two batters later Zamora would make up for his defensive mishap. He crushed an RBI double to left field to tie the game at one. The Hurricanes wouldn’t stop there though. Freshman Adrian Del Castillo would single home Vilar to take the lead back. Then, with two men on, Alex Toral drove a single up the middle for his team leading 12th RBI of the season. A Luis Tuero double would give the Canes their fourth and final run of the inning.
With the Canes up 4-1, McKendry returned to the mound where his defense would let him down once more. Right fielder Tuero dropped a fly ball that allowed the Retrievers to put runners on the corners. UMBC shortstop Andres Machado would score shortly after that on a slow roller down the third base line. This brought UMB back within two.
The Hurricane bats would get that one back as well as in the bottom of the second when Anthony Vilar singled home Tony Jenkins to put the Hurricanes up 5-2. Despite the defensive miscues, Evan McKendry showed his mental fortitude by retiring 12 straight UMBC hitters.
“It’s easy to get frustrated but I try not to let it affect me…errors happen, you just have to keep pitching,” McKendry said.
The Hurricanes bullpen would take over in the seventh with Gino DiMare’s squad up 6-2. Tyler Keysor pitched the seventh, retiring the Retrievers in order on only 11 pitches. Then in the eighth, JP Gates came in and also allowing no base runners and striking out two.
Post Game, Coach DiMare said “All the pitchers threw very well…Keysor came in and did good…Very happy with Gates, he was the guy who struggled in Gainesville, [tonight] he threw just he has all fall and spring and was one of the most valuable players we had going into the beginning of the season.”
To finish off the ninth, redshirt sophomore Albert Maury would make his first appearance in 650 days. Maury, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery, would retire the side in order with two strikeout.
Miami’s defense really needs to tighten up if they are going to go far this season but the hitters are playing out of their minds. The only Hurricane that did not record a hit was Tony Jenkins but he did draw two walks and score a run. Seven of the nine starters recorded RBIs and the team batting average sits at .317.
The Hurricanes return to action Saturday night at The Light. Sophomore right-hander Chris McMahon (1-0, 2.31 ERA) will take the hill for the Canes. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.