The Miami Hurricanes had a breakout game offensively and glided to an 8-2 win over the Florida Atlantic Owls Wednesday night.
A five-run explosion in the third inning sealed the deal for the Canes, while starting pitcher Evan McKendry provided six stellar innings on the mound.
Miami batted through the lineup in the third, as second baseman Romy Gonzalez doubled to lead off the inning at Mark Light Field.
UM Coach Jim Morris offered a bit of sage advice on batting around the lineup in a single inning.
“Oh it’s fun,” Morris said. “I found a long time ago that it’s a lot more fun when you score runs and you win, and our guys had fun today, and so did I.”
Between Gonzalez’s two plate appearances, there was an Edgar Michelangeli bunt-single and a Christopher Barr walk that loaded the bases. Gonzalez tagged up to score when right-fielder Michael Burns flied out to center field.
Hurricanes catcher Joe Gomez walked in the following at-bat to reload the bases before shortstop Randy Batista doubled home Michelangeli and Barr. Earlier in the at-bat, Batista missed a grand slam by mere feet down the right-field foul line. His first-inning single ensured he reached base safely for the 16th-straight game.
For Morris, it all starts with Batista.
“I think he’s the most important guy we want getting on base,” Morris said. “You got to get on base to give the guys in the middle of the lineup a chance to score.”
Morris heaped more praise on Batista, saying he is the “ideal” lead-off batter because of his ability to take pitches and get on base.
The third inning continued when left-fielder James Davison was plunked by FAU reliever Nick Prather. Center-fielder Carl Chester took advantage of the prolonged inning with a single through the first and second-base hole, which plated Batista and Gomez – the fourth and fifth runs of the inning.
After the Hurricanes got off to an early lead, the Owls quickly tied the score in the top of the second when Stephen Kerr homered to left-center field. Miami regained the advantage in the bottom half of the inning.
FAU’s only other run came in the top of the sixth after a sacrifice fly to center field.
Pitching mid week in place of Gregory Veliz, McKendry (3-1) had a career outing. His six strikeouts tied a career high, and his six innings-pitched made for his longest outing of the year. McKendry retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings.
With the win, the Canes have completed the season sweep against the Owls. This comes after already claiming the season series with a pair of wins in March.
Relievers Keven Pimentel and Albert Maury Jr. combined to pitch the last three innings to finish out the contest.
While Miami has been playing sub-.500 ball for just under two months now, Morris maintained that his players are battling through the season.
“I think our guys have played hard,” Morris said. “A lot of things have gone wrong for us, so we haven’t had a lot of breaks. So to stay positive and to understand that it’s not over until it’s over [is important]. Our RPI can get better, and we just got to keep battling everyday and get in the ACC Tournament. [We need to] make a great run in that tournament and let the marbles fall where they fall.”
Miami (18-19, 9-9 ACC) will begin a three-game weekend series against ACC rival Florida State (24-15, 9-9 ACC) 7 p.m. Friday at Mark Light Field.