By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
The Tigers were caged behind the coming out party of Miami bats and the brilliance of Alejandro Rosario. Having struggled in his last couple of performances, tonight he returned to his former self striking out a season high of 9 and maintaining his poise through 6 innings. While Alejandro was putting on a pitching clinic, the Miami bats were putting on their own clinic of tearing apart the seams off the baseball with 8 of their 11 hits for extra bases; 5 by way of LONG ball. From the third inning on, Clemson was never in the game with Miami going into overdrive scoring multiple runs (3) in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th and again in the 8th, defeating the Tigers 12-3 in the series opener.
No changes to the lineup which until tonight hadn’t shown the explosive power that we have all been awaiting for. Alejandro Rosario returned to his Friday night start and it was like watching his early season performances where he has dominated on the mound. Whether tonight was a fluke or the awakening, the jury is still out on. It was the bottom half of the batting order 6-9 (Toral,Gil,Pitelli,Gabe) that gave us a HR derby, the likes of which we had not seen all season.
Except for the pitching of Rosario, all was quiet for the first 2 innings. The past couple of series, Alejandro was having control issues leaving early in the game and not being able to record a strikeout. Started with a 3 pitch strikeout to the opening hitter and proceeding to racking up 6 (2/inn) through three.
Miami would first be heard in the 3rd with their first of 4 three run innings. The first run was set up with a one out walk to Gabe, followed up with a single by Lala advancing Gabe to 3rd. Jordan would steal 2nd,9th of the season, and on a PB, Gabe would be the 1st of 12 to cross the plate tonight. Ground out by Vilar 1-3, the speed of Lala prevented a play at the plate for the 2nd run, and a 2 out double by DC ended the scoring at 3.
the Tigers would get back one of the three in the top half of the 4th with a one out double with a single following the second out putting their first run on the board.
To answer the Tiger’s one in the 4th, the Canes added to their lead with 3 of their own in the bottom half of the inning. It all started with Alex Toral. The first of two, with a 1-1 count, a towering blast to right hitting the Ponce Garage in right in one of the longest drives this year estimated at 432 feet. Gil walks next and reaches 2nd on a PB. Dominic Pitelli better known for his fielding rather than hitting, drives a double bringing Raymond home from 2nd. HP and a walk would load the bases for Yoyo to get his opportunity to puts some runs on the board. Not getting a hit, but rather a SF to center brings Pitelli home for the 3rd run giving Miami a 6-1 advantage.
When you are on a roll, why stop. The 5th will be remembered as HR Derby Time at the Light. Alex started it off with one out with the longest shot to date, bouncing on the 3rd deck (top) of the Ponce Garage for #6. Before the fans could stop talking about the moon ride, Pitelli in the unlikely role gets his 3rd HR of the season to right. Not to be out done, Gabe sends a moon shot of his own way over the scoreboard in left for his 5th round tripper of the season. After Dominic and GAbe going back to back almost saw a third with the shot by Lala to the deepest part of center. CF reached over the fence and brought the ball back into play for the final out. By far the most entertaining inning this season with 3HR and almost 4 extending the lead 9-1.
Rosario returned to the mound in the 7th, having gone more than asked of an him but after 83 pitches, he did not appear as sharp opening with his 5th and 6th hit (double,single). Pitelli made a webgem stop at short preventing a run to score, but an error following 3-6, Clemson gets its first run since the 4th. Gino makes his walk to the mound following the error ending the night for Alejandro who received a standing ovation. Spencer Bodanza got the call from the BP. Spencer starts off with a WP advancing the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Strikes ot the next batter,before a 4-3 groundout records the 2nd and final run for the Tigers.
Miami would have to wait until the 8th to answer for the 2 runs put on the board in the 7th by the Tigers. They did it with 2 out double in the 8th by CDC, follow up with Alex’s 2nd walk. This set it up for Raymond Gil and his 5th of the year clearing the fence in left center for an additional 3 runs.This concluded all the scoring with 12 runs on 11 hits and ends the HR Derby on a high note 12-3 final score.
Offensively, it was long in coming, but the bats became electrified tonight small ball taking the night off and the big hits taking center stage. 3 doubles and 5 HRs; almost 6. Not a bad day at the office. Only Vilar and Yoyo failed to get a hit ending Anthony’s hitting streak at 11 for the second time. CDC 2-4(double); Alex 2-3 (2HRs,2RBIs); Dominic Pitelli 3-5 (double,HR,2RBI). The only negative that can be stated about the offense came in the 6th inning when with BL one out, Alex looking for his 3rd HR of the night goes after a high fastball out of the zone for a strikeout followed by Gil looking at the third strike.
Defensively, one error which cost a run, but overall very solid. The same can be said of the pitching by starter Alejandro Rosario returning to his old form where K is king. McFarlane two innings pitched coming in for Bodanza to start the 8th only gave up one hit.
It was a night, when everything clicked into place giving Miami one of its best showings. Hopefully they can carry this forward the rest of the weekend with strong pitching and the bats remaining alive. An early start at 6PM With Jordan Dubberly getting the call.