Pitelli Grand Slam Leads Canes In Series Opener, 4-1

Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
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Miami with a target on its back, winner of five straight, tied in the Coastal with Va., Duke not having won an ACC contest on either Friday or Saturday this season was out to play spoiler. Both teams had their last year’s closer on the mound. For Carson Palmquist, this game was particularly important for it was this team in opening play of the ACC Tournament last year with a walk-off HR in the 9th inning that broke a 2-2 deadlock. This heartbreaking memory has been festering since May and tonight he came out to return that loss into a victory and erase that one swing of the bat. That was yesterday’s news and this is a whole new day with plenty to prove. Miami would prove just that but it would take 7.2 innings to return that one swing of the bat with one of their own to turn a  potential loss into victory.

Miami’s starting 9 unchanged 1-6. Zach and Dominic would switch in the 7th and 8th slot and rounding out the batting order Gaby Gutierrez batting 9th and playing right. Carson Palmquist, Friday night stater, on the rubber.

Miami threatened to open the game in the first with BL only to have Dorian fly out to left to end the inning. Although no score, Miami was putting the Blue Devils on notice.

In the bottom half of the first, Duke handed the notice back with interest. Carson had visions of deja vu on the second pitch of the game watching the ball once again leaving the ballpark as Duke took an early 1-0 lead. Slightly rattled, he hits the next batter but settles down after that with a pick-off at first. I am sure no one figured that the 2nd pitch of the game might be the difference-maker in tonight’s contest.

Carson went on a string of 5 straight strikeouts cruising through the next two innings. In the 4th, tension mounted with back-to-back hits (single,double) to open the inning. Runners on 2nd and 3rd Carson gets his 6th strikeout followed by hitting a batter on a 1-2 count to load the bases. Facing the 6th and 7th batter in the lineup strikes them both out. 

Carson would finish 6 innings with a career-high 12 strikeouts on 3 hits; one being the solo HR in the first on the 2nd pitch of the game. His counterpart, Marcus Johnson pitched 6.1 scoreless innings giving up just 4 hits; two of which came in the first inning where he pitched himself out of a BL situation.

Pitching on both sides took control with neither team mounting any sign of an offense. With Carson’s departure completing the 6th having thrown 91 pitches, Alex McFarlane was brought in to pitch the 7th. Both teams were ineffective with each’s starters and waited for the call to the BP in the hope to remedy the stalemate. Duke struck first, walking the initial batter, and three batters later their first hit since the 4th inning where they would load the bases before Carson worked his magic striking out the next two. Gino not chancing a breakout goes to the BP and Rafe Schlesinger gets the call. What should have been a 6-4 3rd out instead becomes BL for the second time on an E6 error. Schlesinger takes the count to 3-1 before bearing down to complete the strikeout and keep the score at 1-0.

With Duke’s call to the BP in the 7th, Miami’s finally bats had something to say with a leadoff single by Dominic, only their 4th of the game. With the bats silent for so long, Gino calls for the SAC which Gaby is able to execute advancing Dominic to second. Chance to tie the score at one, Dominic is caught stealing third his first of the year after successfully going 5-5 prior. No runs, 6 outs remaining but finally, the bats came alive with CJ singling after the attempted steal.

With the start of the  8th and Duke’s call to the BP once again, the number of outs diminished to 4, Jacob Burke singles through the right side on a 1-2 count to keep Miami alive. Dorian walks and Renzo Gonzalez, PH for Zach, singles to the shortstop who does not have a play anywhere to load the bases. Dominic who has one of the 7 hits for Miami tonight takes the count full. The festering of that one swing of the bat back in May was redeemed with a 376 drive to right for the Grand Salami. Dominic’s 4th homer of the year, but the biggest in his career to date.

Gage Ziehl needed just 8 pitches in the 8th and Andrew Walters 12 striking out the last two batters to complete the victory and return the favor of that heartbreaker in May.

If you like pitching, this game was a beauty by both starters. No one could have conceived that the second pitch of the game would stand up for 7.2 innings. Schlesinger gets the win, but Carson was magnificent in his pitching performance. Twice, Duke had BL and twice we got out of the jam with strikeouts.

Offensively, it wasn’t until the 7th with two outs, that the wake-up call sounded and it was loud and clear terminating with the game-winning HR. Three players in double digits. CJ Kayfus 2-4; Jacob Burke 2-4; and the Player Of The Day Dominic Pitelli 2-4 (HR,4RBI). Tonight’s win put Miami in sole possession of 1st place in the Coastal with Virginia’s loss to GT 

Game two tomorrow 3PM Karson Ligon pitching.

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