Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
No love is lost between two rivals that care very little for each other. Two of the best starters in college baseball faced off against each other before a divided crowd of 3482 hungry fans ready to do battle. The stadium was rocking as two of the best pitchers in college baseball were ready to do battle. For the first 3 innings, both were evenly matched unable to find the opening to put runners in position to score. Each team had only one hit through 3. Controversy started early with a challenge coming after the second pitch of the game disputing whether the Florida batter was hit. There would be two more challenges before the game was even half over. Miami was first on the board coming in the 4th which electrified the Miami fateful as Yoyo finally broke through the scoreless game with a 400-foot no-doubter clearing the left-field wall to give Miami the early lead. Adding two more in the 5th brought Hunter Barco’s night to an untimely end which for the moment had the Gators on the short end of a 4-0 score.
Both teams went to the BP in the 6th and Miami suddenly saw the 4 run cushion slowly fade into the dust. The patience of the Gators hitters caused all sorts of problems for our relievers in that they had trouble finishing off at the plate. Walks became the order of the day where 5 of the next 8 batters got a free pass to first. With the Gators drawing to within 2 runs, the call for the Closer, Andrew Walters is given in the 7th to put out the fire with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Desperation coming from a failing BP saved us the game but probably eliminated Andrew from being used definitely on Saturday and just possibly on Sunday. Gators would not concede even after Miami got one of the two runs back in their half of the 7th. I think what finally broke their back was the diving catch made by Jacob Burke in right which looked like at least a double or possible triple. If one play made a difference, this put the end of the Gators making a Miracle of their own at the Light. Miami takes Game one of a thriller.
Gino was going for raw power in the lineup in that he was going for the home run punch in the starting nine. 8 of the starting 9 had at least one home run this season. Gaby Gutierrez, batting 9th, making his first start generates HR power as shown from preseason play. CJ was in his normal lead off position followed by Jacob Burke moving into the 2nd slot from batting 5th. Yoyo and Max stayed in the 3rd and 4th position. Chris Perez who is back in service after an injury that sidelined him until the last game against Harvard hit a HR on his first at-bat. Still recovering from his thumb injury Chris was the designated DH for tonight‘s contest. Once healthy, probably in a month, will be alternating between DH and catcher. Dorian batting 6th with Carrier, Pitelli, and Gutierrez rounding out the starting 9. Carson Palmquest, ERA 1.74, moved into the Friday night starter which I felt he should have been all season. Gino stated as for Alejandro Rosario has been sidelined for having a “dead” arm. Might see him worked back into the rotation as the mid-week starter.
For the first three innings, each pitcher totally controlled the flow of the game. Each had 3 strikeouts and allowed only one hit apiece. In the fourth inning, things started heating up as it became the second rotation of seeing each other. Carson’s pitch count started climbing in the 3rd throwing more balls than strikes and not being able to shut the door on the hitters. Carson troubles only cost his pitch count. For Barco, it cost him runs. Jacob Burke opened the 4th with a single, the second hit for the Canes bringing Yoyo to bat. Yoyo caught a high fastball and had an exit speed of 100MPH as he bombed it out of the Light onto the running track behind the LF fence taking the ball 400 feet. The armor of Barco had been cracked and the hits started to roll off the Miami bats. Max Would follow with a single which would take him to third before Carrier left him stranded striking out.
The 5th Miami picked up where they let off with a lead-off single by Dominic Pitelli. On base, there is no stopping him. SAC by Gutierrez has Dom on second, but not for long. Dom catches Barco half asleep in that he was half way to 3rd before Barco even releases the ball. CJ seeing this, I believe he attempts to make a check swing just to protect Dominic. Makes contact and the only play is to first (2-3). Dom with a full head of steam goes home on the throw to first and beats out the throw from first to home. Very gutsy but that is how you win games. Bases empty, Jacob continues the hitting with a single through the middle followed by a Yoyo double that brings in Jacob all the way from first. Yoyo advanced to third on the throw. It appeared that Barco had run out of steam and was throwing on fumes. Max almost had an RBI but a sinking liner to center ended the inning with Yoyo on third. Sullivan, Gator manager, having seen enough brought Barco’s day came to an end. Both starters did not come out in the 6th. Carson finished his day having thrown 91 pitches. Unlike Barco who gave up 4 runs, Carson walked away with none. His pitch count soared in the final 3 innings going from 28 at the end of 2 to 91 on completion of the 5th where he had BL two outs.
Gage Ziehl relieved in the 6th, was also showing signs of not being able to finish off the Gator batters. Patience is a virtue with the Gators opening with a walk. A 4-6-3 DP was a saving grave because 2 walks followed. It wasn’t until his 32nd pitch that Gage was able to return to the dugout with an inning-ending strikeout.
The 7th Alex McFarlane was brought in from the BP. Back-to-back walks and a strikeout had Gino walking out to the mound to stop the bleeding and brings in Rafe Schlesinger. That stopped the walks and in its place back-to-back singles for a pair of runs. A strikeout WP for the second out puts runners on 2nd and 3rd. Gino looking at a possible tie ballgame sees no other option than to bring in our Closer prematurely. He knew bringing Andrew in early pretty much wrote him off the rest of the weekend but he did not want to let this game getaway. Andrew struggled to get the final out but determination prevailed with a full count strikeout swinging.
Almost disaster put aside, Miami takes advantage and the speed of Dominic as once again he causes havoc to the Gators. Bunt by Pitelli hurries the throw by the catcher getting by first (E2) and Dominic is standing on second. PB takes him to third and Jacob Burke completes the process bringing Dom home on a 6-3 ground out. Miami get back one of the 2 runs given up in the top of the inning
Any hope of a miracle comeback was put to rest in the 9th with the play of the game by Jacob Burke. Diving catch in the gap in LC ended any dream of a Gator comeback. Walter gets the save but at a cost of 46 pitches.
Gino going with pure power in the lineup did not get exactly the results he was hoping for. Of the 8 hits recorded only 6 were for singles and Yoyo had honors with the only double and HR on the team. One other player with multiple hits: Jacob Burke 2-4 (RBI).
Pitching: Control was the primary issue. To many balls thrown (74) walking 8. On the other side, we had a combined 12 strikeouts, 6 by Carson and 3 by Andrew. The BP just didn’t do the job expected of them. It might have cost us in the next 2 games if we need to have our closer bail us out of a close contest.