Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
Miami advances to the semi-finals on Saturday to face off against the #1 team in the tournament and the nation. Miami’s road to the semifinals was along the path of missed opportunities and plenty of mental mistakes both on the base pads, batting, and fielding. Missed opportunities in the way of 13 strikeouts, 13 men left on base, 0-3 with bases loaded, and just 2-13 with runners in scoring position. As poorly as we played, the bottom line is a win is a win and we move on in the Tournament.Miami wasted little time getting on the scoreboard with CJ Kayfus opening with a walk followed by Edgardo Villegas’s 6th homer of the year and Miami’s 107th to give the Canes an early 2-0 lead.
When all seemed like we were riding on a high note, things started turning in the wrong direction. Cage Ziehl who has been rock solid all season was crushed in the Pack’s response to our opening. Two back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases with two outs. Eli Serrano takes the first pitch and drills it to left-center to tie the score at two.
In the 3rd and 4th inning, both innings’ bases loaded and failed to come across with a key hit. In the 3rd, Edgardo and Yoyo had back-to-back hits and Blake walked to load the bases with two outs. First pitch to Zach, he pops up to third. One inning later, Dominic opens the inning with a double and Renzo takes the 1st pitch and singles to right to break the deadlock and give Miami a 3-2 lead. A pair of strikeouts and a pair of walks loaded the bases for the second time. Yoyo takes his position in the batter’s box with all eyes fixed on him and proceeds to strike out on 4 pitches.The 5th, another opportunity to put runs on the board with Cyr opening with a walk and Zach doubling putting runners on 2nd and 3rd no-outs. Dominic and Renzo both strike out and Carlos hits into a 1-4-3 groundout.
Fortunately, with all the struggling, we were having through the middle innings so was the Pack. The Pack’s strongest threat to do away with the one-run difference came in the 5th when they had BL with one out. Gage had a battle with Chase Nixon, but on the 8th pitch gets a swinging 3rd strike. The next batter runs the count to 2-0 before Gino felt that Gage was wearing down at 85 pitches and brought in Rafe Schlesinger. With one pitch Eli Serrano hits a grounder through the middle fielded by Dominic, who completes the unassisted out at second.The high point in ugliness as well as the key offensive play came both in the 8th inning. Jacoby Long opened the 8th with a walk followed by CJ singling through the right side. Edgardo came to the plate to advance the runners with a SAC bunt but was executed perfectly to come away with a bunt single to load the bases, no outs. How many times have you heard the following story? Yo-yo struck out for the second time with the bases loaded, followed by an interruption in the strikeout procession. A pass ball bounces back to the pitcher’s mound and Jacobly utilizing his speed catches everyone, not paying attention slides home to give a two-run differential. The runners at 1st and 2nd during the confusion also advance one base. Runners on 2nd and 3rd one out, it is back to strikeouts by Cyr and Levenson.
Miami holding onto a 4-2 lead into the 8th, Gino decided in the 7th, to bring in Andrew with two outs and a man on first. Things got bit scary when the 1st batter he faced singles to left putting runners on 1st and 2nd. Fly out to right would be the last push the Pack was able to sustain. Andrew retired the next 6 batters, striking out three and securing his 10th save, and sending us into the semis for the first time in more years than I can recall.
Offensively, our biggest problem continues to not being able to string hits together for runs and striking out at the most inappropriate times. Mental errors played a factor tonight with really bad base running from Blake in the first and Yoyo in the 6th. Player of the game and the only one with multiple hits Edgardo Villegas 3-3(HR,2RBIs). Had a pair of doubles from Zach Levenson and Dominic Pitelli.Relief pitching of Rafe Schlesinger and Carlos Lequerica only allowed one hit for the two innings pitched but it was Andrew Walters that once again proved to be one of the best when it comes to closing coming into the game with two out in the 7th and caging the Wolfpack.
Weather permitting, we face off against THE team in the nation on Saturday in the Semifinals. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we have one more game to play before facing off against Wake. Duke at 3PM who will be fighting themselves for a Regional berth.