Sixth-inning surge powers Miami past Towson to open series

Across Miami’s first game in 8 ½ months, its lead came, went and returned before the late innings.

No. 25 Miami relied on a five-run rally in the sixth inning and closer Andrew Walters retiring the final five batters to seal the Hurricanes’ 10-8 victory Friday at Mark Light Field.

“That’s probably one of the crazier Opening Night games I’ve been a part of, a lot of things happened there,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “Obviously, I’m happy to see our offense score runs. If we’re going to be a good team, we’ve got to pick each other up.”

Miami (1-0) scored a run in each of the first two innings, but Towson then leveled the contest twice. Tigers left fielder Bryce Frederick scored on a throwing error and shortstop Casey Bishop scored on an RBI groundout, setting up a 2-2 game midway through the third.

Sophomore right-handed starter Alejandro Rosario, posted a 1-2-3 first frame, but allowed five earned runs through the next four. The Miami native entered with six wins last season.

Sophomore pitcher Alejandro Rosario throws a pitch during the third inning of Miami's 10-8 win over Towson at Mark Light Field on Friday, Feb. 18. Rosario threw five innings while recording five strikeouts and five earned runs.
Sophomore pitcher Alejandro Rosario throws a pitch during the third inning of Miami's 10-8 win over Towson at Mark Light Field on Friday, Feb. 18. Rosario threw five innings while recording five strikeouts and five earned runs. Photo credit: Josh Halper

Sophomore shortstop Dominic Pitelli, who enjoyed a career-high 4-of-4 outing with UM’s first home run, hit a two-run double. Vanderbilt transfer catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. and freshman second baseman Dorian Gonzalez Jr. scored for a 4-2 Miami lead.

Towson (0-1) then entered its own scoring push in the fourth. A two-run single from second baseman Jordan Peyton followed by center fielder Chandler Castleberry’s two-run base hit lifted the Tigers ahead 6-4.

Then, after Southeastern Louisiana transfer Jacob Burke hit a solo home run in the fifth, the Hurricanes exploded.

Towson right-handed reliever Jake Pecilunas walked three consecutive batters. A fielder’s choice play granted Miami the game-winning run. Pitelli added an RBI single to pad the Canes’ multi-run lead.

Sophomore infielder Dominic Pitelli is greeted at home plate by celebrating teammates after hitting a home run in the bottom of the second inning of Miami’s game versus Towson at Mark Light Field on Feb. 18, 2022.
Sophomore infielder Dominic Pitelli is greeted at home plate by celebrating teammates after hitting a home run in the bottom of the second inning of Miami’s game versus Towson at Mark Light Field on Feb. 18, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

“We have a bunch of young great guys in the lineup. All these guys look like they have been here a long time,” Pitelli said. “We just all have such great chemistry, so everything just keeps rolling.”

Freshman reliever Gage Ziehl tossed one inning in the seventh and struck out the first two Towson batters, before allowing an unearned run. Freshman Rafe Schlesinger replaced the right-hander in the eighth and set up Walters for the save opportunity with a strikeout.

DiMare signaling for Walters indicated the sophomore’s first save opportunity. The former Eastern Florida State transfer struck out four of five batters to keep Towson from placing any further runners on base and garnered his first save.

“I worked hard for it and I feel like it fits me well,” Walters said of closing games. “It was an exciting moment with all the fans back in the stadium. The crowd was really helping us out.”

Sophomore pitcher Andrew Walters pitches in the top of the ninth inning of Miami’s game versus Towson at Mark Light Field on Feb. 18, 2022.
Sophomore pitcher Andrew Walters pitches in the top of the ninth inning of Miami’s game versus Towson at Mark Light Field on Feb. 18, 2022. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Redshirt junior right-hander Jordan Dubberly, who replaced Rosario in the sixth, earned the win. Pecilunas was tagged with the loss, having surrendered three earned runs.

With the victory, the Hurricanes extended their 13-game win streak to 14 in Opening Day contests at home. Miami moved to 5-0 in the all-time series against Towson.

The Hurricanes return for a doubleheader against the Tigers Saturday. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. in Game 1 and 7 p.m. in Game 2.