Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
[email protected]

The Cardiac Canes for the 11th time this season strikes gold in another  Mark Light Magical Moment coming from behind to take game 1 against the third-rank Clemson Tigers 3-2 with a walk-off HR by Jack Scanlon. Gage Ziehl with his best pitching performance threw a COMPLETE game only allowing 1 earned run, striking out 15 without rendering a single walk. Jack Scanlon walking back into the dugout in the 9th turned to Gage and stated ” Gonna win it for you.” Win it, he did with a crushing shot to right in walk-off fashion ending the 7 game win streak of the Clemson Tigers and adding another victory against a ranked opponent.

Miami had to play perfect if they expected to come away with a victory. The pitching of Gage Ziehl did just that. Gage was lights out on the mound holding the third-rank Tigers to just one earned run which had a team average batting over 300 only losing two games this season coming into tonight’s contest. Gage had to be perfect for the defense and the hitting was not. Two errors (one recorded) and no hitting (all scattered) almost prevented the story book finish. It was a pitching duel the entire contest until just one wrong pitch coming in the 9th changed the whole complexion of the game. This was Miami’s 7th comeback after trailing in the 6th and their 4th Magical Moment of the season. Jack Scanlon would not break the promise to Gage after Gage’s 15th strikeout on their walk back to the dugout in the 9th.

In the first inning, you could feel something different about Gage tonight after striking out their leadoff batter on 3 straight pitches. He would complete the inning with only 17 pitches striking out the two that included Blake Wright, this week’s player of the week for all of D1 baseball. Wright would end the evening going 0-4 with 2 strikeouts.

Miami was encouraged by Gage’s performance by putting up the game’s first run. Blake would become the first baserunner with a one-out walk. Blake advanced to 2nd on Daniel being hit by pitch. Dorian’s single to left loaded the bases bringing Jason Torres to the plate. Blake scored on a slow grounder to second which would be the only score for the Canes until the 9th.

The wind blowing out to right would play a major role for both teams. Surprisingly with HR power on both sides the quality pitching from both limited it to just two. The Tigers were first to take advantage of the strong wind leading off the second. The second pitch and you knew it was gone as soon as it left the bat. Clemson tied it at one in the second and would take the lead in the 3rd which they would hold  for the next 5 innings

Miami’s defense was not a friend of Gage’s tonight and made his job that tougher. The Tigers would lead off the third with an infield single to second. A throwing error by Dorian advanced the runner to second. Two consecutive groundouts 4-3 advanced the runner at second all the way to the promise land (unearned) to give Clemson a 2-1 lead. No one foresaw that this error could have been also the winning run.

Miami attempted to answer in the bottom half of the third but was a bit ambitious in running the bases. Blake opened the inning with a lead-off infield single to the shortstop. Dorian got a bit too greedy trying to stretch a single into a double and got thrown out 8-6. Rather than having runners on the corners with one out, instead had Blake on third with two outs. Torres flies out deep to right which would have tied the score at two but instead becomes the final out of the inning. Poor decision-making on Dorian’s part.

Miami would shut down offensively for the next 5 innings with just 4 scattered hits. In the 5th, we had a bit of offense with back-to-back singles (Jimenez,Villegas) to lead off the inning but Jimenez being picked off at second ended the rally

Clemson also had a chance to further their lead coming in the 7th when a single turned into a one-out triple. Recorded as a triple when it should have been a single put the pressure on Gage once again because of his defense. Blake had misjudged the ball and got a late start. Rather than accepting the single he decided to make one of his diving catches. The ball gets under him and rolls to the fence for the triple. Man on third one-out, Gage records his 12th K and saves the run with a 4-3 groundout for the final out of the inning.

That would be the last threat for Clemson as Gage shuts down the Tigers 3up/3down for the next 2 innings with 2 Ks in the 8 and one in the 9th.

Mark Light Magic is about to commence. Jason Torres walks to open the inning for the tying run at first with the winning run coming to the plate. Jason runs the count to 2-2. The fairy tale finish which would take a review to verify. It was a towering shot to right and the wind kept pushing the ball to the foul pole. It appeared to go foul but the review could not say for certain whether it was fair or foul possibly because of the height of the ball. According to one of the TV reporters he stated the ball did in fact go foul but only after passing the foul pole. What a finish and a promise from Jason to Gage that will be long remembered.

Offensively, no offense other than the final shot from Jason. Nine hits, all of them singles with only one person with multiple hits: Dorian Gonzalez 2-4. 

Tonight, it was all about pitching. What Gage accomplished tonight was nothing but amazing against the caliber of team that Clemson brings to the game. If the offense can’t produce and the defense falters, Rafe is going to have to pitch a career game if we expect a series win. First pitch 7PM


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