Miami entered opening weekend with sky high expectations, and the Hurricanes delivered, capping off a three-game sweep of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights with a 13-6 victory Sunday afternoon at Mark Light Field.
After an hour and a half delay due to rain, sophomore pitcher Slade Cecconi had a no-hitter going through 5 ⅓ innings, before he surrendered two hits and one run to the Scarlet Knights in the top of the 6th. Cecconi finished the game with eight strikeouts while giving up two hits and one run.
“It felt great, but everyone played great defense behind me, great pitch calling,” Cecconi said after the game. “I felt like i had good command up until that last inning right there. I didn’t really have my command there for that stretch at the end which I’ve got to work on this week in the bullpen.”
Miami got on the board right away after Tony Jenkins’ double in the bottom of the first set up Adrian Del Castillo’s RBI before Rutgers starting pitcher Tevin Murray loaded the bases and walked Gabe Rivera to give Miami a 2-0 lead at the end of the first inning. Jenkins and Rivera, as well as Vilar, led Miami with two hits each.
Adrian Del Castillo was pulled from the game after cramping up in the first inning and was replaced by freshman catcher Jared Thomas. Thomas drew a walk in his first at bat and was the last batter Murray faced, as the Rutgers coaching staff pulled the starter after he threw just 52 pitches.
Thomas finished the game with no hits in two at-bats, but drew two walks and had 12 putouts at catcher.
Miami head coach Gino DiMare emphasized that while he thought Thomas played well, Del Castillo is still the primary catcher.
“We are high on JT, but Del is our guy right now,” DiMare said. “I thought Del caught very well. Certainly is the most important position on the field defensively. When you don’t notice a catcher, it usually means the played really well.”
The Canes scored three runs in the second inning. Lala scored on a wild pitch and Tony Jenkins and Thomas scored on the same play after the Rutgers second baseman committed an error on a single from Raymond Gil.
Miami added two more runs in the third inning. With two men on base, JP Gates hit an RBI single to left field and Tyler Paige hit an RBI bunt on the next at-bat to allow Vilar to cross home plate and take a 7-0 lead.
That lead held until the top of the sixth inning when Rutgers’ Peter Serruto broke Cecconi’s no-hitter on a single. Two batters later, Mike Nyisztor’s RBI sac fly gave Rutgers their first run of the game.
But the Canes were not done scoring and tallied two more runs after Vilar hit an RBI double to center field that allowed Toral and Gil to score in the bottom of the sixth. After another pitching change for Rutgers, Vilar scored on a wild pitch to give Miami a 10-1 lead.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Jake Garland came in to relieve Cecconi in the top of the seventh inning. The Jupiter, Fla. native struck out three consecutive batters on just 11 pitches.
The Hurricanes scored two more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on walks.
Serruto added two more runs to Rutgers’ total with a home run over the left field wall in the top of the 8th inning off Alex Ruiz, who replaced Garland on the mound.
Spencer Bozdana replaced Ruiz after Serruto’s home run and Nyisztor hit what appeared to be a home run, but he ran past the baserunner, thus it was ruled a two-run RBI and Nyisztor was called out. Brito followed up with a solo home run to right field.
Miami tallied its 13th run of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning after Rutgers walked in Luis Tuero.
The Hurricanes will face Kent State on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at Mark Light Field before they host the No. 4 ranked Florida Gators for a three game series.