Bullpen Falters, But Canes Hold On To Defeat #13 Tar Heels, 8-5

Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
[email protected]

Going into tonight’s opening series with NC, the Tar Heels were tied with the Hokies in first place in the Coastal and Miami, and GT tied in the second one game behind. If Miami was going to beat another ranked opponent, they would have to shift into a higher gear to overcome the 13th rank Tar Heels. They would have to do it with a quality start performance from Carson Palmquist who would need to get at least 5 innings, an offense to put runs early on the board and not let up doing so, a BP to provide minimum damage, and a closer, if needed, to shut the door. 

Tonight, Carson, not as strong as last week, but effective enough in only allowing just one 1 run. He worked himself out of situations over the course of 5 innings leaving runners in scoring positions 4 of his 5 innings pitched. Gave up 6 hits but struck out 9 which was his lifesaver. The offense put up early runs and added insurance in the middle innings with a pair of HRs accounting for half of our run production. The third element required is for the BP to pick up where our starter left it and assure game stability. Sad to report but we only have one reliever that can be relied upon. When Carson could not go beyond the 5th, Alex McFarlane was brought in who struggled to survive just for one inning. Gino went with the one pitcher he could rely upon up, Gage Ziehl, and pitched as advertised. With a 7 run lead, Gino felt it was safe to rest Gage for tonight and go with a BP that has been marginal at best. As I have repeated since the start of the season, the BP except for Ziehl and Walters is our Achilles Heel. Four runs in the final 2 innings are proof evident forcing  Gino was to bring in Andrew for the final out. A must-win. The other Karson, with a K, is going to have to go deeper, the offense continuing to produce, and avoid at all possible in using our BP if we expect to take the series. If it comes to a rubber match, Like Clemson, expect similar results unless the bats go into hyper-drive. We can not rely on a quality performance from Alejandro Rosario, who has a fastball in the mid-90s but against quality hitters of NC caliber expect an early departure. Unless JD can perform some type of miracle with the BP, this is a team that will struggle the remainder of the year.

Gino stayed with the same lineup that he put on the field Wednesday night against FAU.  Miami with their ace, Carson Palmquist with the rock on the mound.

As expected, Carson came out strong in the first inning striking out the first 2 batters and only needing 13 pitches to get through the inning. The second showed a crack in the armor with a leadoff single followed up with a double. Reverting back to when he was our closer executed with 3 consecutive strikeouts to take out the threat. Carolina opened the third with a single and managed a second hit putting runners on the corners before managing to work the final out. For the third consecutive inning, Carolina got the leadoff runner on board (double) and Carson appeared to be losing his magic walking two to load the bases. Would have once again avoided a score with a 6-4-3 double play except for the fact that in the course of the relay 6-4, the ball got stuck in Dorian’s glove webbing and the Heels finally broke into the scoring column. Carson’s 5th and final inning, again had a runner in scoring position, two-out double, and ending the threat with his 9th strikeout.

While Carson was having difficulty keeping runners off the bases, his offense was doing what needed to be done: putting runs on the board. In the second a line drive solo shot clearing the RF wall(351′) by Dorian for his second homer of the year. The following inning 2 more runs giving Miami a 3-0 lead before the Heels answered with one in the 4th. Yoyo started the machine cranking with a one-out single. Steals second and Max walks. A WP advances both runners with Burke and Dorian providing back-to-back RBI singles.

Carson, with a high pitch count through 5 (94), Gino goes with the BP starting with sometime starter Alex McFarlane. Hoping to last more than an inning, didn’t, giving up a pair of singles squeezed between a couple of strikeouts. A balk advanced the runners to 2nd and 3rd before a final strikeout ended the threat. 

Our half of the 6th, what seemed at the time as one more nail in the coffin, 3RBI HR to center (395′) by Yoyo extending the lead 6-1, instead became the difference-maker. Add on two more in the 7th and Miami was holding on to a comfortable 8-1 lead.

That was until the BP came in to do their damage. Schlesinger never even recorded an out with only throwing 9 pitches. A single, walk, RBI single, and Rafe night was concluded. Next from the BP Ronaldo Gallo trying to hold on to an 8-2 lead; runners on 1st and 2nd no outs. Does so, without further damage. The damage does come in the 9th after walking the first two batters and bringing the once 7 run lead going into the 8th to 3 with a three-run HR to left. With two outs, Gino has seen enough from his BP and was forced to turn to Andrew in an unexpected appearance to salvage a final victory with the final out. 6 Pitches is all he needs to record his 22nd k and 6th save of the season.

The big story of the night was the performance offensively of Yohandy (Yoyo) Morales. A 4-4 evening reaching base on all 5 appearances at the plate. The difference-maker was the 3 run shot in the 6th which if not making it over the wall would have sent tonight’s game into extra innings. Two other players had multiple hits tonight. Jacob Burke 2-4 (double,RBI); Dorian Gonzalez 2-5 (HR,2RBI)

The BP will have to do better if we expect to pull off a series win tomorrow. Tonight, Carolina outhit us 13 hits to our 11 and each team left too many on base. Defensively, we played better in not allowing an error that cost them a couple of runs. Karson will have his work cut out for him. If the offense continues to hit like tonight then we have a fighting chance. That is if the BP does its job. All questions to be answered at 7PM tomorrow.


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