Recap: 4-Run 7th Gives Canes Series Finale Victory, 5-4

Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
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In one of the most important games of the season considering that so many implications on the line not only in the seeding in the Tournament but in postseason consideration. One game over.500 in ACC play (16-15), having lost 3 of the last 4 ACC series, today’s game didn’t get any bigger.  

Coming off an impressive win last night after one of their worse losses Friday night, Miami was totally fired up but it took until the 7th inning for the Sleeping Giant to finally stir.  Friday night, Gino was  quoted ” it starts on the mound”. After falling behind by 4 runs in the 5th, Gino turned towards the BP to stop the bleeding and hold off the high hitting Tech team  hoping  the Giant would awake from what until that point in the game had gone back into their sleep mode. The BP responded to their call (Walters,Bodanza, Palmquest) stopping the runaway Ramblin Wreck with just one hit the remainder of the game. Pitching inspired the hitters and while they didn’t set the world on fire, but when it was most critical they responded with two clutch hits which changed everything.

If not broke, don’t fix it. Gino went with the same batting order as Saturday night. Jake Garland on the mound hoping to rebound from his last outing which ended after 2 innings. This was not App State and would really be a test on whether Gino goes in search for a starter who can get us to the 5th. Right now we only have one. That being Jake Smith who should be getting the Friday start. As who is to fill the void is the million dollar question. 

Jake was up to the challenge in the first just needing 10 pitches striking out 2 of the first three batter. As sharp as he looked in the first, he quickly put himself in a bind in the 2nd with back to back singles putting runners on the corners with no outs. His first true test and responded well giving up only one run on a one out SF. The initial hit was a fluke hit which Jake deflected and on the comeback and then hit the 2B bag preventing Anthony from making a 4-3 put out.

Jake responded in the third only needing 10 pitches to retire the 3 batters faced. It appeared that he was back on track until giving up a leadoff double to start the 4th and you could feel Tech about to break the game open this being their 4th hit of the game. Runner advanced to 3rd on a 6-3 groundout where he would be stranded. Jake would get the final 2 outs after hitting a batter.

While Tech was rattling the cages with one run on 4 hits, it appeared only a matter of time before they would open the game. Meanwhile, the Giant slept with two lone  singles through four.

Miami once again going into uncharted waters entering the 5th, where our starters never seem to go beyond. Today was going to be no exception. Jake got the initial out and then his world collapsed with a one out single, followed up with back to back trippers, one to right and a towering one to left. That ended the day for Jake with the call to the BP. Miami now trailing 4-0 things looked dark as to the Jackets was about to really put on the hurt. Our BP must not have been reading the same script. Andrew Walters comes in and strikes out the next two batters. 

Tech would open the 6th with a single and they did not know it at the time but that would be their last hit for the remainder of the game.

Trailing 4-0 into the 6th, Miami had their work cut out if they had hopes of getting back into this ballgame. They started picking away at the lead with a one out walk. Little Brother would single advancing to second on the throw in from center. Runners on 2nd and 3rd one out. Call to BP which marked the beginning of their end. This is their Achilles Heel. Not the strongest of Relievers.  Big Brother taking advantage of a new pitcher, hits a grounder to first deep enough for Anthony to score and put us on the board.

Still 3 runs down going into the 7th. Pitching change with the count 2-0 on Toral due to injury. Eight straight balls called before the first strike thrown. this was followed by another 2 balls to load the bases , no outs. Gino, I felt made a poor decision replacing Pitelli for a PH. Jared Thomas also bats left which to me made no sense and you are replacing our SS who has been hitting and making strong contact with the ball with someone cold off the bench batting below .200. As I said, a very poor decision striking out on 3 pitches.Back to the top of the order and Tony Jenkins who for the past month has been setting the world on fire. One point in the season batting below .100 and entered today at 203 with already 5 hits and 3 RBIs to his credit for the series. Tony takes a 1-1 pitch and doubles down the RF line scoring two. Vilar walks to reload the bases bringing DC to the plate. Takes the count to full, before singling to left scoring two having Jenkins sliding head first into home for the go ahead run. Tech appealed the call but confirmed safe and Miami take the lead 5-4. New pitcher brought in with still one out and runners on 2nd and third with Big Brother coming to bat. Intentionally walked to load the bases to get to Yoyo who grounds into a 6-4-3 DP to end the rally but the damage done and Miami take a 5-4 lead.

In comes Carson in the 8th, looking at his biggest test. He has been unstoppable and today proves no different striking out two in the 8th and one in the 9th to pick up his 12th save of the year.

Offensively, nothing to write home about except they got 2 key hits when most needed in the 7th. Only one extra base hit that being Tony with the BL in the 7th and DC recording the only one with multiple hits 2-4, but more importantly getting his 2nd hit just at the most critical time of the game to puts us ahead, climaxing the 4 run come from behind victory.

Pitching, not enough can be said about the BP today holding the Tech team to just one hit in 4.2 innings. The problem lies in our starting rotation where they just can’t get beyond the 5th inning. I assume since we really don’t have anyone Jake will remain in the rotation and Andrew might get bumped up. Either that or pitch by committee. We are definitely hurting to find 3 quality pitchers and other than Jake Smith and even he has been good for only 5. This is a to be continue situation with time running out for someone to step forward.

We close out the season at home with FAU on Tuesday 6PM before travelling to Louisville to close out the regular season.

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