Pitelli Powers Canes Past Towson For Opening Night Victory

Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
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With the call of Ball 1 at 7:04PM, the 2022 baseball season kicked off officially in what was to be a high-scoring affair. Before the final out, 18 runs on 20 hits from both sides would be recorded in a marathon slugfest where neither team could hold onto the lead. Miami struggled on defense while Towson’s struggles came from their BP. Early errors centering around RF had Miami with its back to the wall trailing by two runs by the end of 4. It wasn’t until the 6th behind a 5 run breakout did the Canes move back into the lead and managed to come away with a 10-8 victory. What should have been a one-sided contest was anything but. Towson was a much different team from the 21-36 record last year tonight through the first five innings. Towson ran out of gas when they had to resort to their BP. The 5 runs in the 6th were not from overpowering power on the Canes part, but Towson was unable to throw a strike through the first 4 batters faced. The shift came at that point and Miami took back the lead and held on through the solid performance coming from the BP.

Tonight‘s initial starting lineup came as a bit of a surprise about who Gino had starting in RF. We are loaded in the OF and Gino starting Lorenzo Carrier was the last person I would want to see based on his poor performance during the preseason of being able to play the position. All my reports had him unable to field but could hit and had the strongest throwing arm. Tonight was the proof that the only position he can play is in the role of DH or PH. If Gino puts him back on the field he is an error waiting to happen. That said, the starting lineup had CJ Kayfus leading off playing 1st with Mike Rosario as DH. batting second. I expect Rosario will be playing RF tomorrow or Zach Levenson either of which is more desirable than who we had playing that position tonight. Batting 3rd was Yoyo playing 3rd. Concern about his throwing arm was put to rest on his making the defensive play of the game in the 5th. Showed his arm is as strong as ever. Guess his not throwing the ball during the preseason was precautionary. Behind the plate batting 4th was Max Romero followed by Jacob Burke in left. Dorian Gonzalez at second batting 6th. Lorenzo Carrier in right holding down the 7th slot with Dominic Pitelli batting 8 at short and Jacoby Long in center batting 9th. Alejandro Rosario started on the mound.

Miami took early control with their coming to bat in the first and all indicators looked like this was going to be a runaway. CJ surprised everyone leading off with a perfectly laid down bunt down the 3rd baseline. Three batters later Miami would record the first score of the season with a RBI double off the bat of Max Romero. Gino for some reason held up Mike Rosario at 3rd where he would have easily scored for the second run. That miscall from Gino almost cost the game.  This was the first of several mistakes over the next 4 innings.

Towson tied the game in the 2nd on back-to-back errors leading off with Carrier in right misjudging the ball and having it bounce off his glove on a catch that should have been made. The following play SAC fielded by Max throws wide of first scoring the runner from second to tie the game at 1.
Miami answers in the bottom half of the inning with a Dominic Pitelli blast reaching the parking garage in right to regain the lead. Miami would go on to load the bases later in the inning via a single, HP, and walk. With bases loaded another crucial mistake either by Gino making the call or CJ deciding to break for home on a PB. The PB did not go far enough to chance the run for home, especially with Max at the plate already with a double in the first. That misjudgment took the bat out of his hands. Unknown if the same would have resulted, but when Max came to the plate the next inning he recorded his 2nd double of the evening.

Towson strikes back to start the 3rd with a lead-off double which was misplayed by Carrier in right. Rather than play the hit for a single decides to dive on the ball which gets by him putting the leadoff batter on second who would eventually score on a 4-3 groundout. This is inexperience in playing the position on knowing when and when not to dive for a ball. This was a not. 

With the score back at a tie, Miami in their half of the 3rd regains the lead with a lead-off double from Max who was left holding his bat with BL at the end of the 2nd. Dorian Gonzalez walks and Dominic coming off of an HR in the previous inning adds a couple of RBIs with a double. 

Towson trailing by two in the 4th, Miami once again can not hold onto a lead giving up 4 runs, and now is in the hold by two. This comes about with back-to-back singles to open the inning. Towson manages to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd after posting two outs. A single through the middle scored two to once again tie the score at 4 and then proceeds to take the lead on another misplayed ball to right, this time resulting in a triple and another two runs and the lead once again in Towson’s favor. 

Miami managed to diminish the lead by one in the 5th with a Jacob Burke solo shot sailing over the LF fence. Towson would get the one run back in the 6th with a solo shot off the scoreboard to move the spread back to 2 runs.

The breakaway finally comes in the 6th with the Towson BP running on fumes. Three straight walks to open the inning to load the bases and Max has the second opportunity to face Towson pitching with BL. First pitch hits him bringing in the first run. Two groundouts 3-6 unable to complete the DP scores two more runners. Carrier finally gets a chance to do what he does best and triples in the 4th run. Dominic brings him home with an RBI single; his 4th hit of the day. 5 big runs and Miami go from trailing by two and taking the lead by 3. 

Towson would only manage to reduce the lead to two runs answering in the 7th coming about on a throwing error by Dominic. Andrew Walters, Closer, comes in the 8 with one out strikeouts two looking, and shutting the door in the 9th with a pair of Ks looking and a FO to left to take game one in a mishmash of a game of who wants to take the lead.

Offensively, 10 runs on 11 hits. Six of the starting 9 got at least 1 hit. Three with multiple shots: CJ 2-4; Max 2-4 (2 doubles,RBI); and the player of the game Dominic Pitelli 4-4 (double,HR,4RBIs). Two others with extra-base hits: Carrier(triple); Burke (HR).

Defensively, it was a disaster. Three recorded errors but you easily could have given 3 more to Carrier. I expect a change in RF. As mentioned Lorenzo has a lot of work ahead of him before he should see a return to the playing field. He can definitely bat and as mentioned earlier would prefer if he plays at all either as a PH or DH. The one bright spot came in the 5th inning with two outs man on first. Sharp grounder down the third baseline. Yoyo makes a diving grab and throws out the runner. This spectacular play saved a run.

Pitching from the BP was commendable especially Andrew Walter as Closer. He provided a solid 1.2 innings. As for Rosario as a starter started off strong throwing 97-98 but after Towson saw him the first time around started hitting him. He got through the 5th inning with 81 pitches like last year he started struggling in the later innings. We are going to need help coming from the BP this year and tonight they looked good. They would have looked a lot better with a more solid defense.

Tomorrow, game two and three, weather permitting. Showers expected around 2 or 3 and really getting bad in the evening hours. Either a very, very long day or rain postponing before 18 innings scheduled to be played. Game 2 starts at 2PM with game two of the twin bill hopefully a 7PM.


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