Canes Baseball: Levenson Walk-off Homer Gives #23 Miami Win Over FIU

Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
[email protected]

Mark Light Magic struck for the third time this season coming on the brink of the Panthers evening the series at one. Going into the 9th, trailing by two, it looked like another pitiful ending on top of having been swept this past weekend by Wake. Struggling all night to find a hit, having just 2 singles through 6 innings. Trailing for most of the game, CJ ignites the fuse tying the game in the 7th. and then explodes in the 9th with a walk-off Zinger clearing the scoreboard by Zack Levenson. Another Hollywood showcase performance by the Cardiac Kids. Twice, with one strike away with two outs the Panther pitcher is unable to get the final call, Zack comes to the plate trailing by two and two runners on. Cameron Knox delivers a fastball and the rest is history. Over the scoreboard and the soaking down awaits Zack as he crosses the plate. For the 11th time this season, Miami has come back from being behind and coming away with a victory. 

Returning to the lineup Dario Gomez playing center batting 8th and Jack Scanlon with the catching duties tonight behind the plate batting 9th.

Miami picked up where they left off this weekend by not being able to put up any type of offense and leaving runners in scoring position and failing to score. The Panthers drew first blood in the 3rd with their first hit coming with two outs. The HR would be the gold standard for both teams as it was to put FIU on the scoreboard to take a 1-0 lead. Miami answers in the bottom half coming with two outs runner on 2nd. CJ walked to open the inning, advancing to second on a PB. Two outs follow and it looked like another inning that the Canes would continue doing what they do best; Nada. Someone did not tell Zack and he decides to break the streak of 0-20 with RISP with a single to right (unearned) to tie the score at 1-1

The tie at one was short-lived with the Panthers retaking the lead in the 4th with their 2nd HR of the game coming with two outs.

After Miami snapped the streak of not being able to provide a hit with RISP in the third, their bats would once again go into silent mode only able to scrounge up a solitary walk through the 6th. 

In the 7th, Miami’s defense went into destruct mode. Video review of the first play of the inning questioned the ruling on the batter being called safe at second. The ball is hit back to Chestnutt, deflected off his glove, and fielded by Pitelli who throws it in the dirt getting by CJ. The throw to second and the runner slides under the tag ruled safe. Review ruled safe at second. E6 on the play. PB advances the runner to third followed by a single to left giving extending the lead 3-1.

with only two hits going into the 7th, Miami reverts to the only way they know how to score runs and that is going deep. CJ does just that going right center 400′ to tie the score at three with Jack Scanlon crossing the plate just in front of him having reached base via a walk. For the few remaining fans not driven away by the rain felt a level of euphoria for the first time tonight.

Unfortunately like all good things, it doesn’t last for long. The Panthers come right back in the 8th via small ball. A leadoff walk followed by a SAC had a runner on second one out. A change of pitchers brings in Rafe Schlesinger for Chris Lequerica. Chris only faced two batters striking out one and walking another. Out with Schlesinger, in with Andrew Walters. Carlos Perez, who just came in relacing Scanlon, attempts a pickoff at first which goes wide advancing the runner to third from second. Runners on the corners, the runner at first steals second unchallenged. Andrew works a full count before serving up a single to right scoring two, giving FIU the lead once again 5-3.

From euphoria to despair and things got darker with two outs in the 9th and no one on base. Only a few die heart fans stuck around to watch for the final out. The Magic was about to strike. Edgardo with an 0-2 count fights his way back to reach first on a walk. Yoyo also with one strike away from the final out delivers a single through the middle bringing Zach Levenson and destiny to the plate. A 2-1 fastball and Magic explodes with a bombastic blast over the scoreboard. The Cardiac Kids for the third time this season found that Magic for a walk-off victory.

If not for the two HRs coming late in the ballgame, our offense was nonexistent for the 4th straight game. This is a team that keeps struggling to find hits when needed. 2-9 with RISP and striking out again in double digits. Tonight it was 11 and batting just .188 for the 4th straight game batting below the Mendoza line(.200). We can’t hit small ball, but thankfully we have the LONG ball in our arsenal. Sooner rather than later, we have to tie together hits for runs and begin to do so with RISP. This HR mania can’t last forever or can it? Only one person with multiple numbers: Zach “the attack” Levenson 2-4(HR,4RBIs). CJ Kayfus with the other HR of the evening.

Alejandro Torres and the BP had an overall good evening considering the 2HRs given up by Torres. 3 of the 5 runs were unearned compliments of the defense (2 errors). The BP has definitely improved over the past several weeks and hopefully, they won’t burn out their arms. Tonight it was pitching by committee still looking for a long distant starter for midweek. We have several candidates(Torres, Chestnutt, Lequerica), and any one of these three I think will eventually pull away from the pack. Chris Scinta, Alex Walsh, Rafe Schlesinger can provide relief in the short term.

It was another one of those nights and not for the weak of heart. This weekend we got to hit like it was the VT series all over again and blow away the Noles and send them back to Tallahassee dragging their bats behind them. First pitch Friday set for 7PM.


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