It was a sloppy game played through sloppy weather, but the Miami Hurricanes collected a much-needed win Friday night over the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
A mundane, RBI groundout by Adrian Del Castillo in the eighth inning both personified the evening and effectively clinched UM’s 4-2 series-opening victory.
The Canes (25-15, 15-14 ACC) hit just .185 overall. They improved to 10-1 in non-conference games while remaining perfect against mid-major opponents.
“Pleased we got the win,” said Miami head coach Gino DiMare. “But know we are still trying to get this where we can play better baseball all the way around, and we need to.”
For the sixth time in seven weekends, the Hurricanes changed their weekend pitching rotation, giving redshirt freshman Alex McFarlane his first career start in the coveted Friday night slot.
His moment under the lights was put on pause abruptly in the middle of the third frame, when a lightning storm traveled south through Coral Gables. After the approximately 45-minute delay where he stayed loose in an on-site indoor facility, he inherited his own one-out full count and walked Bailey Welch on the first pitch back, but swiftly retired the next two batters on his way to a one-run, four and 2/3 inning start.
McFarlane surrendered just two hits but walked five Appalachian State hitters while registering as many strikeouts. He was pulled just one out away from being in line for the win. Alejandro Rosario threw two and 1/3 scoreless relief innings with just one hit allowed and was credited with UM’s victory.
“I have to limit the walks,” said McFarlane. “But I didn’t let the walks get the best of me. I got out of it, got out of tough situations with the walks. That was my mentality going in, especially after the rain delay.”
Closer Carson Palmquist pitched the final two innings while taking home his 11th save of 2021. He did surrender a ninth-inning RBI double off the left field wall before ending the contest with a strikeout.
Miami got on the scoreboard on their first chance after the rain stoppage, as Anthony Vilar ripped a two-run double to the right field fence on a bases loaded, one-out full count.
The teams tried to break through the low-scoring affair by playing small ball. The Mountaineers’ Peyton Idol reached scoring position on a fifth-inning hit-and-run groundout before scoring an at bat later, when Kendall McGowan logged an RBI single to make it 2-1.
Using the wet grass, Miami utilized the bunt successfully Friday night. Christian Del Castillo scored Yohandy Morales via a suicide squeeze bunt in the sixth. Dominic Pitelli and Tony Jenkins also had bunt singles, while App State’s Idol reached second base on a throwing error after bunting.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on bunting. I thought we did a good job executing some bunts, some drags, [and a] squeeze. And we read balls in the dirt very well. That’s kind of how we got our runs,” DiMare said.
DiMare shuffled the batting order before Friday’s first pitch. A game after everyday leadoff hitter Jordan Lala was moved to the ninth spot, the outfielder was removed entirely from the skipper’s lineup card and replaced with Jenkins in both center field and the top of the order.
Still, the Canes’ bats were quiet against Mountaineer left-handed starter Tyler Tuthill, who tied his season-high for longest outing of 2021. Tuthill struck out 11 UM hitters while walking just two. He allowed four hits to go with three runs, two earned on 112 pitches.
“We’re not swinging the bat the way we need to swing the bat,” DiMare said, although he is sure to take the win in any circumstance.
The Canes are back in action against the Mountaineers 7 p.m. Saturday before Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale.