Miami’s true freshman starting pitcher Alejandro Rosario had already picked up a dominant win in conference play over Virginia Tech two weeks prior.
Now the test was to see if the Miami native could open a weekend series under the brightest lights in south Florida at Mark Light Field.
Rosario picked up his second win of the season, striking out seven through the same number of innings, and Miami (7-4, 4-3 ACC) shut out Wake Forest (3-5, 1-3 ACC) 10-0 on Friday night.
“It’s all about just experience,” Rosario said. “I feel like every time I go out there, I’m just getting better. I feel good; I’m just trying to get the job done and help my team win.”
Despite striking out two batters and forcing a ground out, it took a couple of moments for the Miami Christian High School graduate to settle in.
“First inning, I let the game speed up on me,” Rosario said. “I should’ve taken my time and made the right adjustments. I just let it go too fast for me and from the second inning on, I controlled the game.”
The Hurricanes’ batting order, meanwhile, saw rhythm shift in their direction with the majority of their starters pouring in hits.
“Clutch, two-out hits, just hitting the ball hard everywhere,” sophomore second baseman Anthony Vilar said. “Every guy throughout the lineup is a tough out. So, we’re happy to see everyone finally clicking and this is what we were waiting for.”
Vilar homered to right field in the sixth inning, scoring junior center fielder Tony Jenkins to increase the margin to 8-0.
“I haven’t really changed much, I’ve sticked with my approach, and I’ve sticked with my swing,” said Vilar. “I’ve started to get more off-speeds earlier in the count and I’m just trying to be aggressive on any pitches that are in the zone. I’m just putting barrels on it, and they’re falling.”
Wake Forest first baseman Bobby Seymour, a preseason First-Team All-American, went 1-for-3. The Demon Deacons managed to land four base runners all evening.
Even Baseball America Preseason All-American junior first baseman Alex Toral lit a spark at the plate for Miami, knocking a two-run blast over the fences in the fifth frame.
“I’ve been telling him, I’m like ‘Alex, it’s not your swing, your swing looks perfectly fine in batting practice’,” Vilar said on Toral’s initial struggles at the plate. “It’s just the fact that he just wasn’t swinging, he was being hesitant, and I was just telling him to just swing the bat. Tonight, he swung the bat, and I think he went 3-for-4 with a home run and a double, which he doesn’t hit many of, but he did well.”
Allowing only a double on the evening, Rosario flew through the remaining six innings of work, preventing the Demon Deacons from mounting any momentum by getting runners in scoring position.
“It’s obviously a big deal,” Rosario said. on the emotional pressure of throwing the series opener. “It’s something I’ve been working on ever since I was in eighth grade, just getting heated and helping the team win every time I go out, and I feel like I’m just going to get better from here on out.”
Freshman right-handed reliever Alex McFarlane filled Rosario’s spot on the hill in the seventh inning, keeping Wake Forest from getting on the scoreboard.
“We have high hopes for Alex McFarlane, I mean we think the world of him, he’s such a talented kid,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “It hasn’t caught on yet, I think it was good for him to get out there in that situation. Not a lot of pressure, he can just focus on pitching. You can see when he gets the ball, it explodes out of his hand as well. He’s got good breaking stuff, too. I did like his demeanor on the mount, I thought he was very aggressive in terms of his mentality, his body language, and trying to go after hitters.”
Not playing due to a kink in his neck after a rough night of sleep, freshman first baseman CJ Kayfus did not compete versus the Demon Deacons. Freshman outfielder Chad Born has been nursing a hamstring tweak, as the team remains cautious with the injury.
Having won three-straight ACC games, Miami looks to win the series versus the Demon Deacons on Saturday.
“Very pleased with how we’ve played here now, the last three or four games,” DiMare said. “Just playing much better baseball, more complete baseball. We just did everything, we hit some home runs, we stole a base I think, we read balls in the dirt really well, so base running was good. We had a bunch of two-out RBI hits, clutch hits, played good [defense] and then of course, it all starts on the mound, and we pitched very well. Great way to start the first game of the series.
The Canes and Demons will take Mark Light Field on Saturday at 6 p.m, with freshman pitcher Victor Mederos on the mound for the Canes. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.