McKendry, Cabezas take command in Canes win against Gators

Sophomore pitcher Evan McKendry winds up for the throw in a matchup against Rutgers Feb. 18 at Mark Light Field. McKendry struck out eight batters and allowed just two hits in six innings pitched against the No. 1 Florida Gators in a 2-0 Miami win Feb. 25. Photo credit: Josh White
Hurricanes Baseball
Hurricanes players celebrate following a score during game one of the series against the No. 1 Florida Gators Feb. 23 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Josh White

Miami’s pitching staff had no answer for Florida’s offense in the first two games of the series. But on Sunday, sophomore Evan McKendry and junior Andrew Cabezas rose to the occasion.

McKendry and Cabezas combined for a three-hit shutout to complete a 2-0 Hurricanes victory over the No. 1-ranked Gators Feb. 25 at Mark Light Field in front of 3,388 fans.

McKendry scattered two hits in six innings of work and struck out eight. Cabezas, who is UM’s closer, struck out five and allowed one hit over the final three innings.

Miami (3-4) picked up its first win against UF (7-1) since Feb. 27, 2016. The win breaks a four-game losing streak for UM and hands Florida, the defending national champions, its first loss of the year.

McKendry (1-1) picked up his first win of the year, bouncing back from the previous weekend when he surrendered four earned runs in a costly fourth inning. The sophomore took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when India doubled to open up the frame.

“I definitely felt good,” McKendry said. “It took me time to find some of my pitches, but once I did, I got going. My off-speed was working, my changeup felt good and the fastball – I was locating it pretty well.”

Cabezas picked up his second save of the season.

“I know that they’re nasty and I know that they got good stuff, so it was nice to see them out there doing their thing and taking the whole game over,” redshirt senior outfielder Michael Burns said.

Back-to-back two-out doubles by freshman Willy Escala and Burns gave Miami a 1-0 lead in the fifth.

With the bases loaded for Florida in the top of the seventh inning, Cabezas kept UF off the scoreboard. The right-hander forced leadoff hitter Austin Langworthy to pop out to escape the jam.

Burns doubled the score in the bottom of the seventh inning with a single to give him his second RBI on the day. Cabezas struck out the side to seal the deal in the ninth.

After struggling over the past week, Miami put one of its most consistent performances on display Feb. 25.

“Big thing for me today was for our team to understand what it means to be a good club,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “And they did that today. It gives our entire team confidence to win a game like that.”

“I think we grew as a team a lot this weekend,” Burns said. “We learned a lot all weekend – finally getting over the hump. Moving forward, we’re going to be a more intense, high-confidence team.”

Miami will look to keep confidence in its next outing against Florida Atlantic at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in Boca Raton, Florida.