Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
For both teams, the Biggest Game of the Year. Series tied at 101 games apiece, winner takes bragging rights and for the Noles a step closer to securing a regional host. For Miami, besides losing the bitter taste they have been carrying for the past year of being swept by the Noles last year, their sights are looking towards being seated #1 in the Conference Tournament and hosting a Super Regional.
Miami’s start could not have been worse. Concern on which Alejandro Rosario would show up was quick in coming with a lead-off single in the first followed two batters later by a two-run missile to left to give the Noles a two-run lead. As so often this season, Miami is placed in catch-up mode. The offense showed that after a disappointing night game managing just 6 hits, they still had some pop left in reserve to put up early numbers, but faded the remainder of the game. Had bases loaded in the second and third but only managed to get three runs out of runs ending each inning with a strike out. A total of 15 strikeouts, 3 DPs, and costly defensive plays spelled the difference in the final outcome. The three unearned runs in the 4th and one in the 7th would be all the Noles would need. Jacob’s late HR coming in the 8th wasn’t enough and for the Canes, the bitter taste of defeat will linger for another year as the bragging rights belong to the Noles.
With the absence of Edgardo Villegas from the lineup after sustaining a possible jaw injury being hit in the helmet during the UCF game, Gino made some changes to the lineup to reflect losing Edgardo from number 2 in the lineup. Everyone moved up one slot with Yoyo batting second. The only changes from last night’s starting nine were Henry Wallen batting 8th as DH and Mike Rosario 9th replacing Gaby in left. Max was back to catching after being DH in the night game with Carlos Perez sitting out today after going 0-3 in game 2. Alejandro Rosario starting. Gino hoped to get 4 innings at best but this is a reflection of the lack of depth we have in the starting rotation when our starter should be looking at a minimum of 5 and hoping for 7.
Miami came out swinging getting the lead off batter safely aboard in 5 of the first 6 innings. The first ended badly on a strikeout, throw him out DP. The second Jacob’s lead-off single set up the Canes’ first run with Zach’s one-out double. Wallen and Rosario would walk to load the bases only to have CJ strike out. That brought the lead to within one and you could feel the shifting in the game in the third with Yoyo and Max opening with back-to- back singles. Burke walked to load the bases bringing Dominic to the plate. No outs, bases loaded for the second time in two innings and the opportunity of turning the game and series back in the Cane’s favor. Dominic strikes out on 3 straight pitches. Zach walks in the tying run and one batter later Dorian gives Miami the lead with a SF to left.
The Noles opened their half of the 3rd with a lead-off double, but Rosario dug in striking out the next two with the third grounding to first. The 4th, would see the collapse of Miami’s hope through the fault of their defense resulting in 3 unearned runs. Pass ball getting by Max on the third strike set the wheels in motion. Rather than two outs via the K, just one with a man on first. Back-to-back single scored the first unearned run. Walk to load the base and what would have been the 3rd out, 4-6, not only failed to complete the DP but a run (unearned) scored as a result. The third single of the inning with runners on the corners scored the final run (unearned) and the end of the day for Rosario. Noles regained the lead 5-3 and Miami’s offense had no fire left to strike back except a solo shot from Jacob leading off the 8th going 381′ to left. This was in answer to the Noles extending their lead in the 7th coming off of an RBI triple to 6-3. Burke’s homer was followed up with two strikeouts and a FO in the 8th and fanning away with three more in the 9th.
Offensively Jacob Burke 3-3 day to include our only HR was the only one with multiple numbers. The only other extra base hit was Zach’s RBI double in the second. For the second day, the bats were silent. Another pitching by committee day that fell short of its mark. The only standouts from the BP was once again Ronaldo Gallo who if he has the endurance should replace Rosario. Andrew Walters came in in the 7th to get the final out after McFarlane gave up an RBI triple. Andrew performed as Andrew striking out the side in the 8th.
A disappointing showing of fielding and hitting from the plate, and Alejandro failing to get out of the 4th. This was not totally his blame but the failure of his defense. The bats were silent for all purposes beyond the third only able to manage three hits. Not what you expect hoping to go deep in postseason play. They should be operating in overdrive mode instead of faltering from being out of gas. The final series next week against ND would see if they are winners or just another wannabe team who huffed and buffed and could not blow the door down to capture the elusive title of Champion.
Miami has a chance to get back on track Tuesday against Florida Gulf before their final Series against Notre Dame on Thurday. First pitch Tuesday 6PM.