Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
The stars were out and shining, both past and future, as the U celebrated the annual Alumni game. Over 100 returnees came from far and wide to once again reminisce their days of glory on this sacred turf we call the Light and reacquaint with old friends. For most of the fans, it was their first look at what to expect in the forthcoming season and the opportunity to once again see their favorites in action. For the Hurricanes, it was a thrill playing against their heroes they grew up and dreamed of one day being like them. Tonight, these dreams were fulfilled and they are now ready to create ones of their own knowing one day, years from now, they will return to the Light as our heroes of the past playing against the stars of the future.
In a game closer than anyone expected, the Alum kept the game close keeping the Miami bats quiet until the 8th when they exploded with 4 runs in the final two innings to pull away and come away with a 6-1 victory. Pitching was the keynote to Miami’s success as they struggled at the plate unable to put runs on the board until the Alum pitching staff finally faltered in the end. Herick Hernandez was absolutely brilliant through the first 4 innings striking out 10 of the first 12 batters he faced. He was throwing perfection for 4.1 innings before he gave up his first base runner with a walk. With the first batter to reach base, it was followed by an RBI double down the RF line scoring the runner from first. This would be not only their sole run but would not see another hit until a lead-off bunt single in the 9th. To say that pitching dominated the game would be an understatement. The preseason forecast that pitching would be our biggest concern, for tonight, proved to be a misconception. True, they were pitching against players who may not have swung a bat lately, but still, they were in the zone putting on a pitching clinic.
As for our bats, that was a different story. Fifteen strikeouts are not very complimentary for a team that should be ready at this stage facing opening day less than a week away. There were a few players who showed that they were more than ready swinging the bat with confidence and finding the holes with hits. Lucas Costello took the spotlight early connecting with two solid bombs, one clearing the scoreboard by a country mile with his first two at bat. He would end the evening 2-4 with a pair of RBIs. His was the only scoring until the 8th inning when the bats finally came alive. Dorian Gonzalez was the only other mentionable with the bat with a 4-5 evening which included an RBI double in the 8th breaking a 2-1 stagnated offense. Until that point, it was anyone’s game for the taking. Dorian’s double opened the floodgate with Gaby Gutierrez following with a single of his own bringing Dorian in from second. The two runs extended the lead to 4-1 and Julian Hernandez finalized the victory by ending the game on a high note with a DP. With the victory already in hand, JD extended the game by having one more turn at the bat for his players. They took advantage by tacking on an additional pair of runs with an opening triple by Jacoby Long sailing over the head of the RF and Dorian finalizing the already victory with an RBI single for the second run of the inning.
It was an impressive evening for pitching particularly watching Herick striking out one Alum after another. He was perfect until the 5th when he looked like he was losing his finesse. With a runner on second, one out, a dropped third strike caught the out 2-3. The runner at second who had doubled broke to third and I believe Cuvet was alert enough to throw him out at third to render a DP. It was the BP rather than the hitting that carried tonight’s win. With the concern of the BP being our biggest worry, they were up to the task tonight. The concern now is shifting to our offense. For the past couple of scrimmages, the bats have been relatively silent. If we are going to make a run in the postseason, hitting and pitching are going to have to be in sync. with each other. They have one final scrimmage tomorrow with the start of the regular season next Friday.
As to who will start, we might have gotten a preview, which I am not entirely in agreement with. Having Edgardo(CF) leading off followed by Costello (RF) is a good one, two-punch. Next, JD had Blake batting third playing second. All the hype has been around him getting all of the preseason accolades. As good as a hitter he has been, Dorian is not only a better hitter but fielder. He had Dorian Batting 5th (DH) after Daniel Cuvet(3B). If you are going to use both in the lineup, it would make better sense the other way around having Dorian as the better fielder playing second. Carrier batting 6th was positioned in LF which is a much better location for him. He plays the position a whole lot better than he does in right. Torres at first batting, 7th finishing with Perez catching and Ursa at short. I can’t believe I am saying this but I prefer Scanlon for starting catcher. Jack has taken a major stride this preseason with his batting, exceeding Carlos, and fielding which for me has earned him the starting role. I do feel that they should each divide the duties equally. As for SS, Urso for me has not yet lived up to all the rave that followed him from Tampa. Antonio Jimenez has shown he is better with the bat, fielding, and with his throw. Of course, I only see how everyone performs during scrimmage. I have no idea what the coaches see during practice and what is happening behind the scenes is not available for my viewing. It is a long season, and what we see now will probably be an entirely different picture a month or two into the season. We have a lot of talent with limited positions. It should make for an interesting season where there will be surprises and hopefully no injuries.
One final thought as to the starting rotation. Until tonight I would have given Friday night to Rafe but after Herick’s performance, I really don’t know what to think. Throw in that Gage has made the Golden Spikes watch list, he just might jump both to Friday night. I am not a believer in anything regarding predictions because they are meaningless once the season starts. We are predicted to finish 6th, but they are predicting what they have seen last year and their expectations. What I have seen with the limited number of scrimmages I see it differently. One thing I can say for certain is that we have now 3 good starters. As to the order, I will leave it to the experts to determine. Guarantee, there will be a shuffle, maybe even names, before we get too deep into the season. The same can be said for the position players. I am afraid it is going to be one of those years.
One final scrimmage tomorrow before opening day. First pitch 1115