Toral homers, Miami clinches series victory over Rutgers

Alex Toral drives a towering, high fly ball down the right field line that snuck just inside the foul pole in the fourth inning to put the Hurricanes up 2-1 on Feb. 16. Miami defeated Rutgers 7-1 at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Josh White

Highly touted high school prospect Alex Toral struggled mightily during his freshman season for the Hurricanes.

However, his sophomore campaign has been a different story.

The power-hitting first baseman slugged his second home run in as many games to lead the Hurricanes to a 7-1 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday evening at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

Toral launched a towering, high fly ball down the right field line that snuck inside the foul pole in the fourth inning to put the Hurricanes up 2-1.

The mammoth two-run blast sparked the Miami (2-0) offense.

“After that home run, I feel like the energy in the dugout just boosted,” Toral said. “The next inning we had another big inning.”

Just an inning later, the Hurricanes (2-0) cashed in for five runs.

Middle infield duo Anthony Vilar and Freddy Zamora started the frame with back-to-back hits before freshman standout Adrian Del Castillo lined a single back up the middle to plate Vilar from third.

Toral drew a walk before Michael Amditis drove in a pair of runs with a single into center field.

Freshman outfielder Jordan Lala earned a free pass to load the bases, marking the six consecutive hitter to reach base without the Scarlet Knights recording an out.

Rutgers right-hander Garrett French responded with two strikeouts, but the Hurricanes were not done yet.

Sophomore outfielder Tony Jenkins worked a walk, bringing home Toral before Amditis scored a batter later on a wild pitch.

Miami starter Chris McMahon picked up his first win of the season, surrendering just one run on three hits across five innings. The sophomore struck out four and walked two.

Rutgers (0-2) jumped out to an early 1-0 in the second inning thanks to an RBI single by designated hitter Tim Dezzi.

But McMahon and the Hurricanes’ bullpen silenced the Scarlet Knights.

Freshman phenom Slade Cecconi made his collegiate debut, pitching two scoreless frames and keeping Rutgers off balance. The right-hander recorded a pair of strikeouts.

Sophomore Daniel Federman retired the Scarlet Knights in order in the eighth inning before closer JP Gates struck out the side in the ninth.

“The bullpen was outstanding,” DiMare said. “We gave Slade an opportunity and we’ve got make a decision now on our number four for Wednesday…I thought he threw pretty good. Federman was just lights out and so was JP. It was good to have those two guys at tat the end. When they get on the mound, they get after guys and that’s good.”

Rutgers’ southpaw Harry Rutkowski allowed five runs on six hits in just four innings of work. Rutkowski struggled with command, issuing four walks and striking out six.

The Hurricanes will look for the opening weekend sweep against the Scarlet Knights on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m.

“The last two years we haven’t beaten them,” DiMare said. “We got to come with a mindset that we have to put these guys away. This is the biggest game of the year. We have to treat it that way. These games if you don’t will come back to bite you.”