Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
[email protected]

The Pitt Panthers stay on life support taking game 2 and await the rubber match to determine whether they join the Canes in Charlotte or go home. With both ND and Boston being swept it left the door open for Pitt, but it will require a win tomorrow to make it happen. Miami played with no sense of urgency already clinching a spot in Charlotte Thursday night, but if we expect to be competitive in the Tournament, the offense needs to start hitting, the starting pitching being able to go deep, and start thinking defensively. Tonight it was a breakdown starting with Rafe on the hill, offense non-existent, and capping it off from not thinking before executing with the ball defensively. Miami even went to extremes when all seemed to be failing to start using illegal bats. Unfortunately caught in the act and what looked to be a break-out inning was yet another disappointment in a season of disappointments. Miami trailing by two into the 9th had the tying run on base with no outs but there would not be #19 in a come-from-behind victory as the Cardiac Canes fizzle with a pair of groundouts 5-3 forcing the rubber game tomorrow, to determine whether Pitt is hungry enough to live to fight another day or whether our pitching can stop them from doing so.

With the Tournament slot secured, JD went to BP pitching with none of the 6 pitchers used exceeding 1.2 innings. The BP did their job by not allowing a run and relinquishing two hits. Our 2 starters, Rafe and Herick, fell flat on their faces, relinquishing all 5 of the Panther runs along with 5 of their 7 hits. All of the Panther runs resulted from costly errors that continue to haunt the team.

Rafe got the starting call and in the first inning, he looked masterful needing 7 pitches to retire the Panthers in order. Then came the 2nd and all the King’s Men could put Humpty Dumpty (Rafe) back together again. Rafe had the usual support from Daniel Cuvet in coming through with one of his patented throwing errors setting up the 3 runs scored. Panthers led off the second with a single, followed by a bunt single compounded by a throwing error by  Daniel putting runners on 2nd and 3rd. A walk loads the bases. A 6-4-3 DP which should have ended the inning continued because of the Cuvet error with a run-scoring followed by a two-RBI HR placing Miami in catchup-mode for the umpteenth time this season. Rafe stumbled through the second giving up 3 runs on 5 hits. 

Miami had a response to the three runs with one of their own from a 393′ lead-off homer to left from Lucas Costello. Following the homer in the second, the Canes enter into their dormant stage of ineffectiveness not able to capitalize in the third with a one-out double by Edgardo or two-out double by Antonio Jimenez in the 4th. The Miami sluggers were 1-11 with RISP. That’s .091 and 1-13 with runners on (.077)

Herick Hernandez came in to relieve Rafe in the third and like Rafe looked great in his first inning but like Rafe, his second inning turned into another flat performance which makes you wonder how are we going to win 4 out of 4 in Charlotte when two of our starters can’t get beyond their second inning on the rubber. Herick walked three to load the bases with two outs. A swinging bunt back to him, rather than the easy force out at home, decides to throw to first, which results in a throwing error. Perez should have shouted out, but Herick should have had a plan ahead of time if the ball is hit back to him. Just another mistake and another run. Exit Herick and enter Chris Scinta still with BL. A 5 pitch wall and another unearned run crosses the plate extending the score 5-1.

The Canes finally showed some life in the 7th usually when they start waking up from their snooze. Jimenez opens the 7th with a double, advancing to 3rd on a WP. This is where things get interesting. JD singles in Antonio but the home plate ump calls JD out and Jimenez has to return to third. The call is that Urso was using an illegal bat. Prior to the game, all bats are inspected by the opposing team. A tag is placed just below the barrel of the bat to show that it has been inspected. Urso’s bat had no tag on it as did Jacoby who was next to bat. Both bats were taken out of the game for not being inspected and all the confusion somehow got resolved. Jacoby got JD home with a SF but we lost a run not having JD on base when Edgardo followed Jacoby with a double which would have scored JD if his single was upheld.

Trailing by two in the 9th, Carrier opened with a single scoring on a single by JD which got by the LF who landed on 3B with one out. Top of the order with the tying run at the plate. Long and Edgardo both ground out 5-3 shutting down the last bit of effort of pulling out of the hole they had dug themselves in forcing a rubber match tomorrow.

Batting was the struggle of finding the hole which never seemed to be available. 8 hits scattered throughout but never stringing them together. Two hits for the top half of our order 1-5; both from Edgardo. 3 with multiple hits: Edgardo Villegas 2-4(2 doubles), Lucas Costello 2-4 (HR,RBI), Antonio Jimenez 2-4(2doubles)

Defensively, one of the worse teams in the ACC adding two more to their total. Their mental discipline on the field is flawed and they appear to show it each game. The left side of the IF combined with the highest numbers in the Conference. Hopefully, this summer, they will find a batting and fielding coach to help eliminate these concerns.

As for pitching, when you don’t have but one starter you can rely upon you are not going to proceed beyond go (as in monopoly) and collect your reward. This team is not ready to go to the Tournament with the caliber of pitching, fielding, and no hitting. Unless we can put on a steady stream of HRs it is going to be two and out. Our first game is forecast for Clemson so we better have our ducks lined up or we will become an embarrassment. One more game tomorrow to work on our faults and maybe, by some miracle, we can transport a bit of Miami Magic and the Cardiac Canes will shine under the Big Spotlight. Game time tomorrow is set for 1PM


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