By: Mike Kaffee
RECAP: Sunday, February 21: Hurricanes 8 – Gators 6
Not since 2014, have we been able to take a series away from Florida. Miami has lost the last 16 of 20 games we faced off with them. Today we put all that behind us as we write a new chapter in a rival that has had our number for so long. What should have been an easy victory today after taking a commanding 8 run lead was anything but and came down to a nail biter as the Miami offense shut down after the 4th, the pitching became spotting at best with the assistance coming from a dreadful defense and mental lapse all the way around. Dimare played with his BP which had no response in shutting the Gators down as they went on a 6 run unanswered freight train comeback.Not the offense nor our defense had that killer instinct to put this game to rest. Our BP which initially looked good is now looking at serious issues. It is a matter of rest, but I would have brought in Wanger earlier to set up Palmquest for the win. The old saying a win is a win but this was just plain ugly. After the 4th inning it was watching a team holding desperately on in a downward spiral on what would have haunted them the rest of the season if the Gators had prevailed.
Minor changes to the lineup with DC and Morales (YoYo) switching. Gil back in starting rotation at 3rd batting 6th, Big Brother (CDC) in the 7th slot and Gabe Rivera batting 9th as the DH. Learned from the announcers that Gabe missed most of preseason due to COVID. Victor Mederos making his collegiate debut on the mound.
Miami did not waste any time getting on the board and taking an impressive 3-0 lead shocking the 1,668 fans that came out to watch another series win from their #1 ranked Gators. Lala opened reaching base after being hit by pitch. Aggressive base running by Lala utilizing his speed stealing second. YoYo singled putting runners on the corners with 1 out. DC coming off a very slow start going 1-10 in the series, came through with a 2 run double to put the first score on the board. Toral knocks him in on what should have been RBI single ruled an E4 by a very bias scorekeeper. Two similar hard hit balls were hit to Gil ruled as hits which easily scored as an error giving him 3 rather than 1 for the day. Still, bottom line Miami with an early 3-0 lead.
In the second, it was right back to work with Jenkins leading off with a walk and stealing second. After Lala grounds out 4-3 advancing Tony to 3rd, Vilar brings him home on a grounder to short who was unable to handle ruled an error. That increased the lead to 4.
Gil in his 2nd at bat after striking out in the first on a high fastball outside the zone, records the 1st HR of the season for the Canes extending the lead to 5.
The 4th the lead reached its peak at 8 with three more runs highlighted with an RBI triple by YOYO and a BL 2 RBI single by CDC.
While the offense was strutting its wares with the bat, Victor Mederos was doing likewise on the mound. 45 pitches through 3, keeping the Gators scoreless with only one hit and a single walk. Struck out the sides in the first after giving up a leadoff single, taking them down in order in the second, and recovered from an error from Gil to lead off the 3rd with a 1-6-3 DP.
In the 4th, things started unraveling. Three straight hits, the middle hit should have been a Gil error started the climb back into the game for the Gators. An 8 run lead turned to 7 with the third hit . Mederos hits the next batter to load the bases with one out. A strikeout followed by a round the horn 5-4-3 DP temporarily stopped the bleeding. End of 4 ,Canes up 8-1.
The 5th should have ended it with 3up/3down but Vilar with a one out error gave the opening for the Gators to take advantage. The 3rd batter striking out which should have retired the sides was followed instead with 3 consecutive singles scoring a run and leaving BL to end the day for Mederos at 81 pitches. Anthony Arguelles in relief managing to put out the fire. Lead down to 6
The 6th, Miami had a slight stirring but the sloppy base running by Toral trying to go from 1st to 3rd on a single to right by CDC was just blame foolish. One in that Alex is not exactly the fleetest of foot judging by his being out in his attempt to go to third by a country mile. Did the same thing in the first game, there showing lack of hustle tagging up from third.
While we were floundering, not so for the Gators. Their offense continued swinging their bats adding two more on their comeback run. Longest inning of the game with 8 batters coming to the plate for Florida. A one out RBI single put runners on the corners. A balk brings in the second run. Managed to stay in for one more batter to groundout before the call to the BP bringing in JP Gates. Rather than putting out the fire just added more fuel with a walk, and a hit batter. With BL, Florida loses the opportunity to add any more runs. The lead is slowly dissolving. Now down to 4.
More of the same in the 7th, with Gil misplaying the ball, called a hit followed by an RBI double. Gates managed getting one out before giving up an RBI single and the lead is now down to 2.
Not anytime did Miami answer the call. After the 4th, the Canes sat back watching their lead slowly sinking into the sunset with just 3 hits the remainder of the game (single in the 6th, 8th, and 9th). Fielding was bush league at best, and the BP struggled.
Watching an 8 run lead fall to within 2, finally Dimare goes with Wanger to set it up for Palmquest to earn the save. Ben did not exactly cruise through the 8th, after an error called a hit at 3rd (YoYo), followed by a single put runners on the corners with one out. I call it the play of the game which ended the bleeding once and for all. CJ Kayfus in defensively for Toral grabs a stabbing line drive heading into right which easily would have scored a run and who knows what else would have followed and in turn tags the runner at first unable to return to the bag for an unassisted DP to end the inning.
In comes Palmquest for the 9th, after throwing 3 innings yesterday and makes quick work of the Gators. The Gators had been unstoppable since the third inning and it only took 12 pitches a 3 up/3 down inning to secure the series and a crushing lose for Florida and Kevin Sullivan.
The Kaffee Scouting Report
Offensively, we are still feeling our way. The newbies have earned their way as the vets continue to dispense with their cobwebs. YoYo has been living up to his accolades with the bat even though struggling on the field. 3-5 today with an RBI and the team’s first triple of the year. After starting 1-10, DC came back with a 2-3 outing with a double and a pair of RBIs. CDC, Big Brother, rebounding after going hitless yesterday with a 2-5 day and also 2 RBIs. Left 12 on base and only batted .176 with RISP (3-17). Need to improve on this. Glad to see a more aggressive role on the bases with 4 stolen bases today.
Defensively, no light at the end of the tunnel. Continue to be sloppy on the field. Biggest area of concern appears at 3rd. Gil struggled last year and continues to do so in the short time back on the field. YoYo just learning the position might have to expedite the learning process. Gil with the bat is always a danger with the long ball when not going after the high fast ball where he hungers for striking out at a record pace. Toral at first is a work in progress. Reason why Kayfus is brought in defensively in the latter innings. The OF appears solid with plenty of speed in left and center as shown by diving catches by Lala and Jenkins to end the game.
The BP is another story which I really can’t speak much about at this point. The one name I have not seen and would have expected to have made an appearance was Alex McFarlane. Don’t know if he is injured or COVID related. Seeing a lot of freshman including starters which I was impressed with and it looks like we are solidly moving forward with our starting 3. Hopefully Federman continues to perform like he did on Friday and not let his emotions take over.
As earlier stated a win is a win, no matter how it looks. We return next Friday with our ACC opener against VT. One thing for certain, Florida is no longer #1.