Freshmen Anthony Vilar and JP Gates cleared the bases for Miami … and stacked the deck against FIU.
Vilar, normally Miami’s second baseman, made his first start at shortstop and pulled a line-drive, tie-breaking, three-run triple to right in the fourth inning to lead the host Hurricanes to an 18-10 win over the FIU Panthers on Wednesday night.
With Miami ahead 10-5, Gates added his own three-run triple in the sixth. Miami also got homers from Gabe Rivera and Michael Amditis, who went 3 for 4.
The Hurricanes (28-14), ranked 24th nationally by D1Baseball.com and USA Today, swept their two-game season series against FIU (17-23). Miami also equaled its win total from last year, when the Canes finished 28-26 and failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.
The key for Miami on Wednesday was its seven-run fourth inning — featuring Vilar’s triple — that was the third-biggest frame of the year for the Canes.
Vilar was filling in for Canes sophomore shortstop Freddy Zamora, who was out of the lineup for the first time in his collegiate career.
Zamora has a sore arm, and there’s no timetable for his return.
Miami was also without its leading hitter, third baseman Raymond Gil, who is batting .356.
Gil was taking ground balls in practice on Tuesday when he was hit in the face. Miami is hoping he will be able to return this weekend when the Canes host Virginia Tech.
Wednesday’s early innings featured a pair of two-run homers. Jose Garcia gave FIU a 2-0 lead in the first with his two-out blast to left on a 1-2 fastball from Miami starter Tyler Keysor.
Rivera got Miami even in the second with his two-run shot off a hanging Angel Tiburcio breaking ball.
Miami broke the game open with its seven-run fourth off reliever Everett Hurst (2-3) and two other pitchers. The Canes’ rally featured three walks, two hit-by-pitches, Vilar’s triple, one single and one sacrifice fly.
The closest FIU got after that was a four-run deficit in the fifth, and the win went to Canes reliever Mark Mixon (2-0).