Freshman Chris McMahon takes command in victory over FGCU

Photo credit: Josh White
Chris McMahon
Freshman right-hander Chris McMahon slings a fastball at Mark Light Field. He struck out eight batters and gave up just one run in eight innings April 18 against Florida Gulf Coast University. Photo credit: Josh White

Since missing more than two months to injury, it seems freshman Chris McMahon is finding his rhythm.

After pitching a shutout 4 2/3 innings in his first collegiate start, the right-hander was on fire Wednesday, April 18, putting forth his best performance so far as a Miami Hurricane. He struck out a career-high eight batters and gave up just one run in eight innings. His performance led UM to a 8-1 victory over the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Wednesday evening at Mark Light Field.

“It felt great out there,” McMahon said. “I got in a groove after those first two innings. I had a lot better command of my fastball tonight than in my previous outings.”

McMahon (1-0), who was the No. 76-ranked MLB Draft prospect by Baseball America last spring, tore the meniscus in his right knee mid-January and didn’t return until March 29. The West Chester, Pennsylvania, native has been on a pitch count since his return, but made it all the way up to 89 pitches on Wednesday evening. He scattered two hits, gave up no walks and retired 18 of the final 19 batters he faced, including the final 12.

“That injury was definitely hard,” McMahon said. “It was frustrating to have to sit out for three months. Every time I step out there, I feel like I’m getting better. I feel like I’m finally getting back to how I can be, and I just have to keep getting better.”

The season series between Miami (16-20) and FGCU (25-10) is now tied at 1-1 with the final meeting coming May 9. The first game resulted in a 1-0 Hurricanes loss in a pitcher’s duel.

The Canes got off to a hot start early, scoring four runs in the first two innings, driving out eagles starting pitcher Peyton Gray, who lasted just 1 1/3 innings while allowing three hits and two walks. Leading 5-1, Miami secured the victory with three runs in the eighth inning.

Freshmen Gabe Rivera and Freddy Zamora led the way for UM going 3-for-4 and 3-for-5, respectively, and combining for two RBIs. Zamora has recorded 14 multi-hit games this season, which leads the team.

Freshman second baseman Willy Escala missed his first game of the season after starting the first 35. He was one of three Hurricanes to start the entire season thus far – Zamora and redshirt senior Michael Burns are the other two.

Miami has now won three of its last four games, including two against No. 8 Clemson, and looks ahead to a weekend series against Pittsburgh starting at 7 p.m. Friday, April 20, at Mark Light Field.

“That series win at Clemson was huge,” McMahon said. “That shows the type of team we can be … We can battle with anyone. Today was a good win to keep the momentum going, now we have to do it against Pitt this weekend.”