Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
Little more than a month ago, 12 April, we were sitting on top of the world with a 14-game win streak, ranked #2 in the nation, and leading the ACC with VT trailing in the Coastal by 5 games. Thursday, April 14 Miami would start its downward plunge facing off in a 3 game series against VT. Since then we have dropped series against VT, GT, and FSU and are at the doorstep of losing its 4th ACC series to ND. While we have been plummeting downward, VT has been doing nothing but winning. The 5 game lead going into the year’s final series had dwindled to 1/2 game ahead of the Hokies. We still controlled our destiny. Sweep ND or match Tech then come Tuesday we would be entering the Tournament as Conference regular season Champion and #1 seed. Instead, we now stand as the #3 seed after tonight’s loss and the Hokies’ win against Duke. It all comes down to the season’s final game for both teams. If we win and VT somehow loses against Duke who has been eliminated from Tournament play and most likely post-season then we go in as the #1 seed as Coastal Champion and the best record in the ACC. As for ND, they have to hope for a Louisville loss and a series win against Miami to win the Atlantic and go into the Tournament as the #2 seed. A win by Louisville and it does not matter the outcome of tomorrow’s game for the Irish.
As earlier stated, Miami going into tonight’s game still controlled their destiny. Karson Ligon who has been struggling as of late would be leading tonight’s attack hoping he would get the offense to come out strong swinging their bats. Instead, it was the Irish who showed they wanted the win more than the Canes. Not even Gaby could carry the ball for the second night. Although another 2-3 night, the HR punch that carried the Canes to a 6-4 victory last night was not to be found. The finding would go to the Irish with 3 finding the fences as their starter Austin Temple, for 6 innings kept Miami scoreless with only one hit coming off the bat of Gaby in the second. It wasn’t until change of pitchers in the 7th, did the Canes threaten only falling short with a 4-6-3 DP. Trialing 5-0 going into the 9th, one final burst getting to BL with Dominic Pitelli stepping to the plate looking for his third grand salami in the dream of another Magic Miami Miracle.
The only change to the lineup was with DH. Gaby with his 2 HR performance last night secured a temporary lock-in left replacing Edgardo Villegas who had been the staple in left the entire season prior to his injury. DH and batting 9th Henry Wallen. RH pitcher, Gino decided to insert a LH batter over Ariel Garcia who bats right. Karson Ligon gets the call as starting pitcher.
Karson has been struggling the second half of the season with control and things got off to a bad start on the second pitch of the game sending a runner to first after hitting him. 6-4-3 DP got him out of the first, but a lead off HR to start the second, followed by a double and a second hit batter, started dictating how badly things were not going in the right direction.
With the Irish taking the lead at 1-0 into the second, the Miami bats had no response whatsoever. Other than a 2nd inning single by Gaby, starter Austin Temple kept the Miami hitters hog tied through 6 innings where he finally was relieved only allowing 3 walks and striking out 5. Miami could not find a hit while the Irish collected their second HR in the 5th for two and again in the 8th giving them 4 runs on HRs alone. Tonight they totally turned the tables on us on what we did to them Thursday night.
It was not until they changed pitchers in the 7th that we managed to put up some semblance of an attack. Not having a hit since Gaby’s single in the second, back-to-back singles by Dorian and Gaby started getting the juices flowing only to have it end with Dominic hitting into a 4-6-3 DP.
They put up an insurance run in the 8th with their 3rd HR and Miami was seeing the end of them taking the series tonight, and hopes dwindling for #1 seed as the Hokies did what they had to do winning 6-1 over Duke.
Hadn’t been shut out in 367 days, Miami opens the 9th with a double by Max followed by Jacob with a single. Runners on 1st and 3rd no outs, the fans finally had something to get excited about thinking Magic was about to strike. Two quick outs 1-3 by Zach and Dorian flying out to shallow left only was able to advance Jacob to second. Gaby coming to bat, already with two hits, and fans want to see another Gaby bomb. Instead, walks to load the bases. Now it is Dominic looking for his third Grand Slam and he was swinging to do just that. Count 1-2 with a final swing only finding air for the final out completing Miami’s plunder of controlling their destiny with the Hokies in complete charge.
No hitting which has become our calling card only able to collect another 5 hits outing in two days. Yesterday, we had the support of three HRs and the best tonight was a double by Max coming in the 9th. One hit through 6 innings is not going to get us far going into postseason. The bats better start to come alive quickly or what could have been a great year would end on a very sour note. Pitching, as I identified in the preseason was going to be our Achilles Heel. Other the Carson Palmquist, who of our starters can we really rely upon. We need 4 and honesty right now we have only Carson. Andrew has been the only other staple in the BP. We have had very good outings from Gallo and McFarlane but 2 pitchers don’t make a BP. Even Gage has been showing signs of being cracked. Things just don’t look bright when we should be in upper gear moving into overdrive. Right now our tank is bearing running on fumes.
Tomorrow is the final game of the regular season, not certain exactly if Rosario will be getting the starting call. Not that we have much else to choose from after Jake has been having major issues himself.
Whoever it will be has to give us an A+ performance and the bats better come out to play. That and Duke pulling the upset of the season. Hopes of hosting a super Regional are all but gone unless the Committee looks favorably if we can win the Tournament. First pitch 1PM.