Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
For the first time since 2012, Miami has advanced to the ACC Finals and will be seeking its first title since 2008. They took on the #1 team in the nation and crushed them 7-2. They did it with stellar defensive work from Yoyo Morales, Jacoby Long, and Zach Levenson and behind the brilliant hitting exhibition from Yoyo going 3-4 to include two HRs, one of which was an inside-the-park, along with his 4 RBIs. They came to play in the downpouring rain, and they played one of their best games of the season.
Karson Ligon returned to the mound after being absent since the 23rd of March. A little bit of rust under his belt, but it taken him long to shake the cobwebs off and get back to work. He was definitely on a pitch count of approximately 55 pitches which he threw 52 making sure he did not over-extend himself. He pitched 2.1 innings and his absence on the mound showed giving up 3 walks, hitting one, and a couple of hits and a run. Whether it was the weather or just plain rust it was good to see his return. We will definitely need him come next week when we charge into post-season play.
The Canes were first on the board coming in the second inning with bases loaded (single by Pitelli,walks to CJ and Edgardo). Mr. Excitement stepped to the plate and didn’t disappoint. The last couple of times, Yoyo has come to the plate with BL, he struck out. Not this time sending the ball through the middle to bring in two.
Wake got one of the two back in the bottom half of the inning after Karson gave up a one-out walk and single through the left side. That marked the end of the day for Karson and Gino brings in Alejandro Rosario who is fast becoming our go-to from the BP in relief. His first pitch, hits the batter, loading the bases, and thoughts are generating that this might be a fast outing. That was the old Rosario. The new and improved model stayed with us for almost 5 innings and only relinquished a run in the 6th which was unearned. Bases loaded a ground out 5-3 brought in the initial run for the Deacons from third.
Canes added one more in the 6 with Yoyo’s first homer of the day hitting the light post high in right to make the difference once again back to two. Wake strikes back in the bottom half to take the lead back down to one again on a made-to-order DP 6-4-3 only to have the throwing arm of Blake once again fail us throwing it into the dirt which CJ was unable to scoop up. Blake is a great hitter but his fielding and throwing ability is much to be desired. Hopefully, in summer ball someone will be able to work on his throw. This resulted in an unearned run and brought the Dea’s to within one again.
The breakout came in the 7th with 3 big runs to take the spread to 4. Jacoby’s one-out single started the wheel in motion. CJ followed with a single up the middle and the speed of Jacoby had him resting at third. The throw from center was not nearly in time and CJ advanced to 2nd on the throw. Edgardo grounded out to first and had no chance for the throw home because of Jacoby’s speed. They intentionally walked Yoyo to put runners on the corners and Blake delivers with a single through the middle adding two more increasing the spread to 4 runs.
In the 7th inning, we started seeing some stellar defensive plays. We already had one to end the 5th with Jacoby stealing a HR off the fence in spectacular fashion which should make the ESPN high-lite reels. The first two batters reached base each with a single and you had to wonder if Gino was tempting fate bringing out Rosario to start the inning. Two on base, a hard grounder to Dominic rather then going the traditional 5-4-3 DP decides to go the other way having more trust in the throwing arm of Yoyo and turns the DP into a 6-5-3 relay. The arm strength of Yoyo is amazing as will be shown a couple of innings later.
The 8th, Gino finally makes the walk to the mound after Rosario gives up a lead-off single. Gino would make three more trips to the hill after each out replacing Lequerica, Torres, and Schlesinger in turn.
The 9th was something special that just added more WOW to this amazing game.
Offensively, it was Yoyo front and center. Not since 2005 had we witnessed an inside-the-park HR but under the most horrible conditions Yoyo drives a shot to right which looked like it cleared the fence but no indications from the umpire it was a HR. Rather than wait for a decision which never came Yoyo made his tour around the pads under the confusion of the two outfielders.
Fast forward to the bottom half of the inning, Andrew Walters on the mound, a scourging liner deep down the third base line, Yoyo makes an unbelievable snatch of the ball and lofts it to first to get the runner. The play even amazed the Wake fans. That made it the second out and the climatic finish went to one more spectacular play. This time it was Zach Levenson taking the honors. A hard drive to deep right had at least a double written all over it, but out of nowhere the express train called Zach makes a diving leap of the ball, surrendering his body for the impact to follow. Next thing we see is Zach lifting his glove triumphantly covered in mud with the ball.Two great plays and one spectacular finish to move on to the championship game Sunday against Sunday, weather permitting.
Everyone had written this game off, all except for the team itself. They were determined to show that on any given day, any team can beat the best. Today it was the Canes coming out on top with key defensive plays and a Superhero going by the name Yoyo. Two players with multiple numbers: Zach Levenson 2-5(double); Player of the Game Yoyo Morales 3-4(2HRs,4RBIs).
Defensively, any of the plays by Yoyo, Jacoby, or Zach could make the Hi-lite top ten. Today was more of one of our most impressive wins on both sides of the ball in the most horrible of conditions. Today earned us a shot if the heavens allow us to play tomorrow was the title Champion which we haven’t won since 2008. First pitch set for HIGH NOON.