Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
A little past 4:40 PM the college preseason officially kicked off under dark skies and windy temperatures in the low 70s. Definitely jacket conditions. However, under the chill, it did not dampen the spirit of the crowd in attendance as they were treated to another pitching clinic for the second straight outing. The primary gunslingers don’t come out until tomorrow but that didn’t take anything away from the pitching performances of Gage Ziehl, Rafe Schlesinger, Karson Ligon, and newcomers Brian Walters, Gunther Braendel, and Sebastion Perez. However, the two other pitchers on today’s docket, Ashton Crowther and Alejandro Torres showed my concern about why we are in trouble with our BP. For 6 of the 7 innings, nothing but zeroes across the board. Hits were scattered throughout the scrimmage but not until the 7th did anyone step up to the plate and capitalize for the only score of the game. A pitching clinic for the most part and I have to admit, biting my tongue, that just possibly the pitching staff is not as flawed as I have been reporting. I still stand by my concern that the BP is not what I would like. For me, my chief concern is still how deep our starters can go and who will come front and center to close the door.
age Ziehl and Karson Ligon, both starter contenders, open the 2023 preseason; each pitching 3 innings. First hit of the preseason, CJ Kayfus takes the honor with a 2-out single in the first. Advanced to 3rd on a PB but Zach Levenson failed to bring him by striking out. Pair of strikeouts in the second left Dorian Gonzalez stranded on first with his first of two singles (only multiple hitter) at first. A 1-4-3 DP ended the third. No runs, 3 hits (1/inn), 3 Ks, keeps his name in the hat for consideration.
Karson Ligon, also pitching 3 innings had similar results with no runs recorded. A lead-off single to Jacoby Long didn’t brighten his spirits, but an attempt to steal second shut down the early threat. Carlos Perez came right back with a single of his own. But Karson’s 2nd K of the inning to Ian Farrow finished the inning. 3up/3down int he 2nd. In the 3rd, dug in on the mound striking out Alejandro Torres and Kaden Martin to open the 3rd. Closed the inning by picking off Blake Cyr at first after he singled for the lone runner of the inning. Another name in the hat for starter consideration.
Rafe Schlinger in relief of Gage for three innings of his own and the BP got their chance to be recognized. Rafe gets credit with the first extra-base hit of the preseason with an opposite-field double to right by Zach Levenson who tried to stretch it into a triple but got caught short on an excellent relay from the OF. Dorian followed this with his second single but never got beyond first. In the 5th, a 6-4-3 DP highlighted the 5th half of the inning and a 3up/3down quietly ended his tour on the mound. The third and final hat for starting consideration.
Gunther Braendel pitched 1 inning. The highlight of the inning was the defensive play of the game by Jason Torres playing third. Great spear of the ball down the line to throw out Carlos Perez at 1st robbing a sure-fired double.
Brian Walters got his throws in the 5th and took away another good outing striking out 2 and walking one. Possibly another Andrew in the making. He will get his chances this season to move up the charts.
The bottom of the 6th, brought in two pitchers, Ashton Crowther and Sebastian Perez. Ashton had control issues right from his opening pitch being somewhat wild for the better term. Walking 3 to load the bases which included an E1 on an attempted P/O at first sending the runner to 3rd. Not normally done during a scrimmage, but JD brought in Sebastian Perez to finish the inning. Haven’t seen that done, but JD saw something he definitely did not like and removed him.
Sebastian Perez stayed in to finish up the scrimmage without incident, but not before Alejandro Torres had his chance to stir the fires. Stirring he did, but not the type of stir he wanted to see. With yet to see a score on the board, this is about to change. Opening walk to Zack who gets thrown out in an attempt to steal second. This was followed up with a one-out single by JD Jones setting up the offensive shot of the day by Dario Gomez. A deep shot, the longest of the day, left center scoring Jones from first and for Dario ending up on second. That would be the only score of the day.
A credit to the pitching staff for putting up a good game plan and having me eat a bit of crow. Tomorrow the Big Guns take to the mound and expect to see the first showing of the preseason for the scouts to be in attendance. The pitching crew held the power boys to just 9 hits and a single run scored, with Dorian Gonzalez being the only one with multiple hits. Expect to see similar results unless the bats can once again start clicking. This is beginning to look a bit of deja vu from last year.
First pitch is tomorrow around 730 PM. For those who are going to attend bring a hot tottie and warm clothing.