UM suffers fourth-inning meltdown, surrenders lead and game to Rutgers

Evan McKendry
Sophomore starting pitcher Evan McKendry extends for the throw in the Hurricanes' series finale against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Feb. 18 at Mark Light Field. Miami would give up seven runs in the fourth inning to lose 7-5. McKendry struck out eight batters while allowing four hits and four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Photo credit: Josh White

No. 24 Miami led 5-0 and was in control with hopes of sweeping the opening weekend against Rutgers, but then the Canes’ infield imploded.

The Hurricanes committed three errors in the fourth inning and allowed Rutgers to score seven runs in the frame.

Sophomore right-hander Evan McKendry was dealing in the early going, striking out seven batters across the first three innings, but a lead-off single for the Scarlet Knights in the fourth turned into much more damage.

Rutgers took advantage of the Canes’ defensive blunders and capitalized with RBI-singles from Kyle Walker and Dan DiGeorgio to take a two-run lead that would ultimately be enough. The Scarlet Knights would go on to win the series finale 7-5.

The Scarlet Knights (1-2) sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning and cut McKendry’s day short.

The Pembroke Pines native tossed 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs – only four of which were earned – on four hits. McKendry struck out eight in the effort.

Miami (2-1) had a chance to tie the game in the final inning but fell short.

With Rutgers one out away from closing out the Hurricanes, redshirt senior infielder Michael Perez delivered a two-out, pinch hit single.

2017 team MVP Romy Gonzalez, who hit 11 home runs last season, represented the tying run. The junior popped out to shallow right field to end the game.

The Canes opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI-double by junior outfielder Danny Reyes, plating Willy Escala.

Then in the following frame, the Hurricanes added three more runs to their tally.

Redshirt freshman catcher Michael Amditis ripped a single to left field to lead off the inning. Freshman third baseman Raymond Gil followed with a double over the center-fielder’s head.

A defensive miscue by the Scarlet Knights allowed fellow rookie Freddy Zamora to drive in the run. Gil and Zamora would eventually come home to score thanks to a passed ball and a wild pitch, respectively.

Coming off a productive game on Saturday night, freshman first baseman Alex Toral would drive in Reyes with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.

Reyes’ hot bat continued for Miami. The junior outfielder finished 3 for 4 with an RBI-double, raising his average to .727 in his opening series as Hurricane.

Miami’s bullpen was impressive in the defeat. It pitched the final 5 2/3 innings and did not allow a run, while only surrendering two combined hits.

The Hurricanes will return to action when they host the Missouri Tigers at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Mark Light Field.