Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
Bada Bing, Bada Boom. That is the story of the night. Three massive home runs capped the 10 hit outbreak in Miami taking the all-important game one from the Virginia Cavaliers or more like the Virginia Cavatears. Miami pitching headlined by Carson Palmquist and associates held the 3rd rank Virginia team to just two hits (2-30) for an overall batting average .067. Coming into tonight’s contest they were in the top 10 batting .364. Their top hitter, Jake Gelof, one of the best in the nation batting .437 with 14 HRs was held without a hit striking out twice. Errors marred the early goings for the Canes resulting in two unearned runs and a high pitch count in the early innings for our ace pitcher. After the second inning with a pitch count at 47 and 2 runs in the hole, Carson showed why he is one of the best in the ACC handcuffing the Hoos hitters to a lone hit in the 5th, and retiring them in order for the 3 of his 4 remaining innings. From a start of 25 pitches in the 1st inning, he was able to go 6 innings and throw 102 pitches, striking out 8. Alex McFarland needed help for the final out in the 7th when Virginia showed a threat but was bailed out by Rafe Schlinger for the final out. Gino went for the Magic Duo of Ziehl and Walters to finalize the Win and give the Canes a two-game margin in the Coastal over the Cavatears.
With so much on the line: first in the Coastal, 10 game winning streak, the winner of the series would not only be a front runner to win the Division but primary seating for the Tournament in May and more importantly hosting a Regional.
Probably getting a bit ahead of myself, but it is one game at a time; this being the most important game of the year with tomorrow taking its place as the most important game of the year. That being said, Gino made a bit of a shift in the lineup which came as a bit of a surprise. Dorian Gonzalez was benched for tonight being replaced by Ariel Garcia making his second starting appearance batting 9th. Batting order 1-7 unchanged from Wednesday with the exception of Max returning to his duties behind the plate and Zach Levenson batting 7th assumed the role of DH. Batting in the 8th position is Gaby Gutierrez. Friday night starter Carson Palmquist is on the hill
Carson got off to a shaky start and doubts started stirring that tonight might not be one of his quality nights. An unlikely start with an 0-2 count ending up with a walk did not exactly give a warm fuzzy to the 3552 fans expecting a stronger start. After giving up a second walk, in the same inning, one had to wonder if the pressure was getting to him. A strikeout sort of settles things down until Maxwell throws the ball into CF on an attempted steal following the K. Runners on 2nd and 3rd two outs, Carson gets strikeout #2. Besides a few control issues, Carson comes away with a pitch count of 25 which does not equate to an extended period of time.
In the second inning, Virginia draws first blood and things were going from bad to ugly. As in the first, Carson opens with a walk. CJ is unable to handle a grounder (E3) back to him having runners on 1st and 2nd. A failed SAC back to Carson goes to third (1-5) to get the lead runner. Runners on 1st and 2nd, single through the middle, Burke in center makes a great relay 8-1-2 and would have had the runner trying to score from second except for the fact Max drops the ball. Down 1-0 with runners on 2nd and 3rd, a grounder to Dominic brings in the second run. Both runs unearned and pitch count at 47.
Miami gets one of the two runs back with a 345’linedrive by Maxwell to right on the first pitch to lead off the bottom of the second. This is why he is in the lineup. His 5th of the year. Max’s homer rekindled the fires not only of the fans but the Cane’s bats. End of two, Miami cut the deficit to 2-1.
With the offense coming alive, so did Carson. For the next two innings, Virginia batters went down in order striking out 4 times. As for Miami batters after Max’s HR in the second, Yoyo joins the club with one of his own, this sailing out of the park at 420′ to right-center. As a bonus, CJ was on first at the time giving Miami the lead 3-2 which they would not relinquish.
Miami would add to their lead in the 5th with a Gaby Gutierrez lead-off bomb of his own, his first, going 391′ to right stretching the Canes lead 4-2. The finishing touch comes in the 6th. Unfortunately, it could have been a lot worse for the Cavaliers being in a BL situation with nobody out. Yoyo opened the inning with a single, followed likewise by Max. Runners on 1st and 2nd, Jacob doubles (RBI), and Dominic gets hit by pitch. Zach with a chance to break the game wide open grounds into a 6-4-3 DP but Max scores from 3rd. 6-2 at this point, but it could have been so much more.
The 7th inning with the departure of Carson at 102 pitches, Alex McFarlane is brought in from the BP. Virginia taking advantage of the change in pitching opens with a walk. Two opportunities to turn a DP had to settle for 3-6 on both occasions. A WP on top of a throwing error by Max to 2nd put a runner on third. Alex walks his second batter bringing to the plate their catcher Kyle Teel who has 5 homers this season. Call to the BP and Rafe Schlesinger to challenge Teel. After three long fouls, Rafe wins the battle getting him to pop out to Yoyo leaning in the stand to grab the ball
After that, the Maestros of setup and closer were brought in to orchestrate the final 6 outs. Gage Ziehl 9 pitches, two strikeouts. Andrew Walters 15 pitches with a single strikeout. Game one to the Canes 6-2.
Offensively, HRs was the headline tonight seeing three flying out of the park: Yoyo, Max, and Gaby. Three players with multiple hits tonight: CJ 2-3; Yoyo 2-4(HR,2RBI); Max 2-4(HR,RBI). Zach and Edgardo only two starters without a hit tonight.
The defense could have been very costly tonight with three recorded errors and a Max dropping a throw at home which should have been error #4 for not holding onto the ball. This has to be tightened up or we will pay dearly for it. Virginia is too good of a hitting team to not take advantage of our miscues. Tonight, our pitching prevailed under the leadership of Carson and Gage and Andrew holding on to the back end.
On the mound tomorrow is the other half of C&K. Our freshman wonder, Karson Ligon, who has ice flowing through his veins can’t afford a meltdown in his most important outing. Presently leads the ACC with an ERA of 1.45. A win tomorrow locks in the series and possibly Division Champions. First pitch 7PM.