Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
Tonight it was feast or famine. Tonight started out like it was going to look like a repeat of last Friday’s game as Gage struggled through the second inning getting pounded for four runs on four hits. By the time the dust had cleared, he had thrown 47 pitches, 32 alone in the second, and it appeared it was going to be another start with an early departure. Gage came out in the 3rd and proceeded to take down the next ten batters without a hit. He left after 5 innings having struck out a career-high 9 batters. For the next 3 innings, the BP feasted allowing the Big Green just one hit and not having a base runner get beyond first base. Then came the 9th and Miami’s lead came tumbling down. The famine that the Big Green was experiencing since the 2nd took on a new life even until Andrew Walters unexpectedly had to be called in to stop the bleeding. Even so, an additional two runs would be added prior to the one run already been scored before Andrew found his mojo striking out the final two to secure the first game of three 9-7.
Minor changes to the lineup moving up Yoyo to the third slot to give him more reps at the plate, and dropping CJ to the cleanup position. Carlos was back in the lineup batting 8th and Dominic in the 9th slot. Gage Ziehl on the mound for his second Friday start.
Gage hoping to bounce back from a disappointing first start appeared to be going through a deja vu moment when like last week against Penn State gave up 4 runs in the second getting him an early departure. I am sure the Gino had thoughts of pulling him after two having thrown 32 pitches and again being brutalized giving up 4 runs on 4 hits with a pair of walks. The worse part was walking in the 2nd run with the BL. Under normal circumstances, that is exactly what would have happened except that with the loss of Brian Walters, the BP is badly depleted, and need to save every arm as long as possible. Gage stayed in and the gamble worked. Whatever was said or not said, a different Gage came back out in the third and reclaimed the confidence he seemed to have lost striking out 5 and only allowing a walk to lead off the 5th.
While Gage was finding himself after experiencing another 4-run offering, our offense was having a famine of their own through the first three innings only able to pick up a pair of singles both from Edgardo in the first and third inning. The rest of the team never left the batter’s box except for Blake who was hit by the pitch and the only one to reach base in the second. The rest of the team hit all fly outs and went to the outfield except for Carlos who struck out.
In the 4th, trailing 4-0, the Canes feasted for the next two innings picking up 6 unanswered runs compliments of what everyone was anxiously waiting for: The Bomb. Tonight it came each with two on and with one swing of the bat changed the entire course of the game. CJ opened the fourth with a double. With two outs Ian Farrow gets hit by the pitch, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Carlos Perez takes a 0-1 count and puts the Canes to within one run of the lead with a 385′ drive to left-center. In the 5th, we continued to feast on this sudden surge of power walking the first two (Edgardo,Yoyo) to bring CJ Kayfus to the plate. Launch time. Destination the parking garage 399′ downrange. In two innings the team feasted on 6 runs to go for being down 4-0 to take the lead at 6-4.
For a team that seemed to have found themselves these past two innings their appearance in the 6th took on the similar look of the first three innings: this time going 3up/3down. The Big Green continued being the Green Blob doing absolutely nothing since the 2nd experiencing total famine to put up any type of an offense. With their offense in shutdown mode, their pitcher experienced a similar fate in the 7th. Hit by pitch and walk to open the 7th resulted in a call to the bullpen. The change only made things worse for the Bleeding Green. He walks CJ to load the bases and Zach singles for one run with Blake going one better with a single stretching the score to 9 unanswered runs putting the Canes sitting on a very comfortable 9-4 lead which would carry into the 9th inning.
With the game pretty well decided Gino decided rather to keep Alex Walsh in to wrap up game one decides to once again to make the call to the BP and bring in Sebastian Perez for the final three outs. That was the plan, but that was not the way things worked out. The first out went to the full count before getting the call of strike three. With the crowd thinning out from the original 3022 fans in attendance, the Big Green still was not done and feasted on Sebastian. 3 straight singles scoring one before the call no one had expected having a five-run lead going into the 9th. Andrew Walters gets the quick call to stop the unthinkable. Once the feasting started in the 9th, even Andrew found it hard to stop. A double down the left field line scored two, followed up with an infield hit and just like that runners on the corners with the go-ahead run at the plate. Even Andrew had to regroup. Bearing down he showed why he is the best at what he does: CLOSE. Striking out the next 2 batters each on four pitches. Canes take the opener on a heartstopper 9-7.
Offensively, a pair of HRs save us once again accounting for 6 of our 9 runs. Three innings we saw feast, and six were definitely famine. Just three players in multiple numbers: Edgardo Villegas 2-2; Zach Levenson 2-4 (double,RBI); CJ Kayfus player of the game 2-3(double,HR,3RBIs). Extra base hits: double(CJ Kayfus, Zach Levenson); HR(Carlos Perez, CJ Kayfus). We were out-hit 11-8 but the difference once again was the long ball. This has been the newest weapon in our arsenal and without it, our record would probably not be 5-1.
Defensively, we have a lot of work that definitely needs working on. Our communication on the field has to improve with someone taking charge. Carlos Perez in the first had no business going after a pop-up that was clearly CJ’s which resulted in an error being charged to CJ because of Carlos interference. Almost had a collision Between Dario and Edgardo going after a fly ball. Carlos again in the 9th clearly had the runner at second after he made a wide turn towards third. Rather than throw the ball to second he bluffs the throw trying to get the runner in a rundown himself and blow the sure out. Those I can remember as the most glaring. Base running by Zach needs to comment on especially his sliding into first base on the grounder to first. If he had continued running through the base rather than sliding he would have beat out the first baseman. The rule is always run through the base, never slide especially feet first. His not reading the pitcher got him caught stealing by a wide margin once again.
Pitching wise Gage was fortunate that he finally turned the page after the second inning. We couldn’t afford to take him out so early in the game with the limited number of relievers. The starter has to get us to the 6th or the BP is going to take a beating from being called out too early over and over. Last year the BP was basically burned out because of the lack of numbers. We are sitting in the same boat this year which is why it is a must that the starter gives us a quality outing.
They say a win is a win and a month or so from now when one looks at the record no one is going to remember how it got there. We go at it tomorrow to take the series and for the sweep on Sunday. At least that is the plan. First pitch 7PM with Karson Ligon the probable starter.