Canes Baseball: Scrimmage (2/12/2023)

Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
[email protected]

The Funfest is now behind us and it was back to business one last time for one final scrimmage. I am assuming next week Gino will be concentrating on fine-tuning everything and getting ready for opening day. The lineup I feel has been pretty well set with the exception of RF which I feel is going to be a floater position for the player who has the hot bat. LF and center appear to be a lock with Edgardo Villegas in left and Dario Gomez in center. Zach Levenson I feel has the edge right now over Ian Farrow mainly because of his fielding. Ian just doesn’t appear comfortable as of yet playing the position. Too many careless mistakes. The IF there is not any issue who wil be playing where. First backup in case of injury is Blake Cyr who will definitely start next year when we lose our infield with the exception of Dorian Gonzalez. Between now and then, Blake needs serious work on fielding the ball cleanly. Behind the plate, Gino is locked into Carlos as the starting catcher which he probably should be for Friday and Saturday, and utilized JD Jones and Jack Scanlon for Sunday and mid-week. None of the catchers wow me defensively with Jack being on the bottom of the totem pole. Hitting wise JD has been the most productive but is the junior of the trio which might give the edge to Jack.

As to our pitching, this still is the area which needs the most work and the one that is going to frustrate you the most. The only two pitchers that I really feel comfortable with are the two Brothers, Brian and Andrew. They have shown me the most for being our set-up and closing pitchers. I am afraid they are going to see a lot of usage only because if our starter can’t go deep it will mean turning to our BP which have shown not to be reliable. We just don’t have quality pitching from our starting three, that being Karson Ligon, Alejandro Rosario, and Gage Ziehl. It is anyone’s guess as to the mid-week starter. For now, the bats are definitely going to have to be working overtime to build a cushion for our struggling BP.

Today, was just another continuance in the saga of a BP that for the most part can’t keep runners off the bases and which our offense continues to have batting practice against those failing arms. Nineteen hits pounded out, ten of which were for extra bases; seven leaving the park. Not saying there wasn’t a bit of help from the wind, but this same story seems to be repeated with each scrimmage. Today was a record-breaking day via the long shot.

Ben Chestnutt and Carlos Lequerica started things off for today with Ben pitching for 4 and Carlos for two. Ben had a major scare facing the first batter of the day striking Jacoby Long in the head. It appeared serious in that Jacoby stayed on the ground and worse fears materialized. The helmet was a lifesaver, with the ball striking on the side deflecting the helmet and cutting into the side of Jacoby’s face drawing blood. Walked off the field under his own power being escorted out to the locker room to check for a concussion. Don’t know if they have facilities at the stadium to do so, but two innings later, Jacoby trotted back out to CF to play the remainder of the game. Fearful of how the hit would affect Ben, he appeared to shake it off by striking out Edgardo Villegas. I am sure Edgardo had thoughts going through his head when he stepped up to the plate. Skated by the inning with only a walk following Ian Farrow and ending the inning striking out Blake Cyr. Ben’s story this preseason as I have shamelessly reported as having his chestnuts roasted facing off against an offense taking him down the road of disappointment. In the second, they did just that with a pair of solo HRs by Dorian Gonzalez leading off followed by three batters later by Jason Torres doing the same striking the RF pole. In the third inning, Dominic Pitelli short-circuited the end of the inning on coming to a conclusion with runners on 2nd and 3rd, popping it through the IF for a 2 RBI single. Surprisingly, Ben came out for a 4th inning which helped to redeem his confidence striking out the two final batters faced (Ian Farrow, Zach Levenson) looking after walking Edgardo who stole second and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by Carlos Perez.

As for Carlos, he had a much easier first inning striking out two of the three batters faced. That triumph did not last long, as the bats took revenge on him in the second with 5 runs ending his day after two innings. Eight batters would come to the plate highlighted by a two-run shot by Zach.

If you are counting that is 3 HRs in two innings.

Gunther Braendel came in to relieve Carlos in the third for two innings of his own. Gunther has had a miserable preseason and did not show any indication of improving after being blown off the mound Friday with just one out. He went through 7 batters before recording the final out in the third but not before Gaby recorded HR #4 for the day with Dorian on board via an opening walk. That was the only damage sustained for the day.

The top of the 5th saw a reprieve in runs with Ronaldo Gallo returning to the mound after a shell shock Alumni outing in which he gave up all three of the Alumni runs. Ronaldo looked to be the Ronaldo that JD was hoping for in striking out two of the batters he faced off against. His showing today, might be just what we need for an inning or two coming out in mid-innings. I still don’t feel comfortable with Ronaldo in a starting role. Sebastian Perez appeared in the bottom half of the 5th and didn’t come away unblemished for the one inning he appeared in offering up the 5th homer of the day to Ariel Garcia with a runner on first.

The 6th inning was painful to both pitchers with Rafe Schlesinger donating two runs to the growing pot of runs and Chris Scinta who thought might have injured his shoulder on his last outing. Rafe had an 8-batter showing finalizing the last out with bases loaded after giving up RBI singles to CJ Kayfus and Dario Gomez. Chris who gave us a scare ending Friday’s scrimmage grabbing his left shoulder appeared healthy today except when he had to face Yoyo with two men on. This was something we have been seeing regularly from Yoyo; that being sending one airmail special delivery out of the park.

Things quieted down in the 7th hitting wise without a run being scored but the high point to the inning was the performance of Brian Walters who stymied the batters needing only 8 pitches and striking out two to complete another quality performance on the mound. Chris who hung around for another inning must have had a bit of Brian rub off on him having a 3up/3down inning.

Alex Walsh also stepped up and gave a quality inning in the 8th giving a quality 3up/3down performance. Not so for Alejandro Torres who added two more to the scoreboard serving up a two-run homer to Edgardo to deep center.

This left it up to Closer Andrew Walters who did not disappoint. Not as flashy and as quick as little brother, but just as effective at collecting 2K looking for the three batters faced. As for pitching, these two, Walters and Walters, one can feel comfortable with as our set-up and closer to starting the season. Besides, it makes for a great story. 

Offensively, it was another one of those days. They need to hold onto to this display of raw power come opening weekend. 19 hits equating to 18 runs making it a fun day for the offense at the expense of our unamazing pitching cadre. Ten for extra bases, seven of which for HRs. Doubles (Blake Cyr, Kaden Martin, Ariel Garcia). HR (Edgardo Villegas, Zach Levenson, Dorian Gonzalez, Gaby Gutierrez, Yoyo Morales, Jason Torres, Ariel Garcia). Five of our sluggers put up multiple numbers today. Jason Torres 2-4, Jack Scanlon 2-4, Kaden Martin 2-4, JD Jones 2-4, and Ariel Garcia 2-3.

If you like hitting, there was plenty of it at the expense of our troublesome pitchers. The question to be asked is whether it is enough to take us across the finish line or if it will be a struggle because our pitching staff not being able to get it done. 

These and many more questions will soon be answered next Friday as we open a three-game series against Penn State to start the run for that Golden Ring that has eluded us since 2001.


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