After a six-hour, 15-inning battle the night before, the Canes made it look easy in a 7-1 win over Maine on March 4 at Mark Light Field.
No. 24 Miami pulled out a 7-6 victory the night before on a walk-off single by first baseman Alex Toral ending at 12:02 a.m. And the team needed to be up and ready for an 11:30 a.m. start that same morning.
Despite the quick turnaround, the Hurricanes (5-6) fought through some fatigue to finish with a 2-1 series victory.
“I thought we were a little sluggish today; I know I was tired,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “They didn’t get a lot of rest for sure, particularly for the catcher – I didn’t even ask him if he was OK – but all these guys are excited about playing.”
Sophomore pitcher Evan McKendry led UM with another strong outing, tying a career-high with 10 strikeouts and allowing just one run in six innings. He got plenty of run support from freshman catcher Isaac Quiñones, who had four RBIs on the day.
“We executed when we had to,” said Quiñones, who started for just the second time in his career. “We had big situations, and we got the runs when we needed to get them. Pitching was outstanding, hitting came through and it turned out to be a quality win.”
McKendry (2-1) found himself in a jam after loading the bases for Maine (3-8) in a rough first inning but limited the damage to just one run. The right-hander surrendered five hits and shut out the Black Bears the rest of the way. McKendry has struck out 26 batters over 15.1 innings pitched this season.
“Coming out today, I didn’t feel like I had all my stuff working well, so I knew I had to throw my pitches and start getting some feel for everything,” McKendry said. “First inning was a little rough, but then I settled in and just got comfortable.”
Tony Jenkins opened the scoring for the Canes with a two-RBI triple in the fourth inning to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead. The outfielder drove in fellow freshmen Willy Escala, who singled and stole two bases, and Quiñones, who drew a walk.
Miami never looked back from there.
The following inning, UM padded its lead. The Canes loaded the bases for Toral, who recorded an RBI-single. Two batters later, Quiñones delivered again, hitting a two-out double to drive in three more runs and bury the Black Bears.
Quiñones earned his fourth RBI of the afternoon when he drew a walk with the bases loaded to put Miami up 7-1.
“I try not to think about bases loaded too much,” said Quiñones, who played 32 of the 33 innings for UM over the weekend. “I just try to sit on that one pitch and just barrel one up. I have seen a lot of bases-loaded situations, so just trying to piece one up is my mentality.”
Morris emphasized the play of his freshmen after the game.
“I looked up in the ninth inning, and seven out of eight position players were freshmen,” Morris said. “It’s nice to see some of the young guys come through. Isaac [Quiñones], of course, had his chance to play and had an outstanding weekend. He was our player of the game.”
Canes baseball takes the mound again at 7 p.m. March 7 in a road matchup against crosstown foe Florida International University.