Another Three Homer Night Leads #8 Canes Past #3 Virginia, 5-4, Go For Sweep Sunday

Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
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For you doubters, pack your bags. Tonight, the Canes winning their 12th straight is proving that this is NOT just another Cane’s team. They are proving to all that they are on a definite mission and no team is going to stop them from getting there not even the 3rd rank team in the nation; Virginia Cavaliers. For the second night, Miami came back from a two-run deficit bolstered by another three HR display of raw power to take us into uncharted waters that we have not seen in a long, long time. Miami pitching has been overwhelming in keeping the Virginia batters in check. Tonight, in the 4th inning, Virginia showed why they are one of the best hitting teams in the country after being held to just two hits Friday night. Their bases clearing double with bases loaded added to the already one run scored earlier in the inning put the visitors ahead by two. Karson Ligon not having his best of nights needed help from his BP and the bats to claw their way back into the game. The bat of Yoyo Morales was no bigger than the 429′ orbiting shot to left-center to put the Canes back on top in the 7th and the arm of Andrew Walters held off a hard-charging Virginia team in the final moments. Before 3552 screaming fans standing on every pitch, they had to wait until a review on the final play of the game.

Silence overcame elation until the ump verified the final out which set off the largest ovation to be heard ever at the LIGHT.

No changes to last night’s lineup. Karson Ligon on the hill going for his 5th win. Did learn that Dorian Gonzalez is on a day-to-day decision on whether to play due to an injury sustained during the FIU game.

For the first three innings, Karson was pitching like he has been all season; untouchable. With only 32 pitches, it appeared Virginia was continuing on having its problems getting a hit. For a team coming into the series batting .328, Miami’s pitching has been overwhelming.

Our bats continued producing having runners on first and second with no outs in the first and one out in the second but each time failed to provide the needed hit to put runs on the board. If not for the 3 HRs, again tonight, the outcome might have been totally different. With RISP we were 0-12 with 12 way too many strikeouts. Raw power was the money maker tonight.

We got to see this in the 3rd inning with one onboard (walk) from the bat of Jacob Burke arousing the fans with a two run 343′ homer to left scoring Max in front of him putting Miami in the lead 2-0.

Then to the 4th and stunned Miami fans watch their worse nightmare unfold with 4 runs. The ice in Karson’s veins suddenly was in total meltdown with back-to-back hits to lead off the inning. Karson unable to find the strike zone walks the next batter on 5 pitches to load the bases. To the plate, their #1 hitter, Jake Gelof, held hitless last night and the same tonight. Four straight balls walks in a run and bring the Hoos to within a run and ready to make a breakout. Bases are still loaded. Line drive down the third-base line clears the bases and Miami fans look on in disbelief as the 2 run lead in the third, now trails by 2 by inning’s end.

Miami gets back half of that complements of Zach Levenson’s launch over the scoreboard for a solo shot of 374′ to lead off the bottom half of the 4th. This helped to alleviate some of the stings we just experienced in the top half of the inning. Gaby followed with his first double of the season and advanced to 3rd on a WP after back-to-back strikeouts by Ariel Garcia and CJ Krayfus. Strikeouts and RISP really hurt us on not being able to take advantage throughout the game. 

The 5th, Gino not wanting to go to the BP early decided to keep Karson in to work it out. After hitting a batter and giving up his 4th hit, the call to the BP and concerns as to the early departure of our starter not being able to complete 5 innings. Alejandro Torres saved the day by getting Devin Torres, their #3 batter, to ground into a 6-4-3 DP holding off the threat.

The 6th we thank the cooperation of their pitcher/catcher for giving us the tying score. Zach gets a one-out single with Gaby walking right behind him. Runners on 1st and 2nd. Pass ball runners move up one base, followed immediately by a WP scoring Zach. Again not able to take advantage of runners in scoring position.

Once again, we return to the long ball, the third of the evening, to take the lead once again. As the announcers said it was “YAYA FOR YOYO”. 429 ‘ launch into the stratosphere to left-center.

Holding on to the narrowest of leads enters the Maestros who have been our lifeline this season. Gage just needs 13 pitches striking out two to close out the 8th and the 9th was almost not a storybook finish.

Again stranding a man on third in the 8th with just one out, Andrew comes to the mound to take us on home to the finish line. The finish line for tonight had a few bumps in the road that we have never seen this season. A lead-off single, only the 4th hit Andrew has given up. Two strikeouts follow and Andrew is back on the format that we are all familiar with. One hit is bad enough but a second hit is unheard of. This is followed by a batter being hit to load the bases and stuns fans into shock. Two quick strikes and the shock turns to frenzy. The decibel level was off the Richter Scale as everyone was on their feet with every pitch. Count 1-2, a sizzle is hit back directly to Andrew who puts his glove up in self-defense preventing a sure two runs from scoring. The ball knocks his glove off and he manages to retrieve it throwing the ball a bit shaken to first. The throw draws CJ off the bag, but CJ goes acrobatic touching the bag with his non-glove hand. Replay confirmed a nerve-racking finish to clinch the series 5-4.

Offensively, the long ball was everything. For the second night, 3 HRs were the different makers: Burke, Levenson, Morales proudly carried the night. One in multiple numbers: Zach Levenson 3-4 (HR,RBI). As earlier mentioned, we were not getting the job done with runners on 0-12 and striking out too much with 12 tonight. We are going to have to improve on these areas if we want to continue on this rainbow ride.

The BP had another great night. Karson did not have the best of nights getting beaten up in the 4th but he will recover. Torres, Gates, and Gallo provided the needed middle relief only allowing two hits and no runs against a Virginia desperately trying to return to pre-series form. What more can be stated about our Set-up and Closer. They are the best 1,2 combination possibly in college baseball. Andrew got save #10. Best in the ACC.
Tomorrow for the SWEEP and 13 in a row. First pitch 1PM.
  

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