By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
A SWEEP almost not to be except for that Mark Light Magic coming from the most unlikeliest of hitters. After comfortably taking the first two games, today it was a pitching dual to the final pitch. Consistency would be the order of the day, and with the the bats not doing so, it was Jake Garland that would carry the banner through the 6th inning before turning it over to Carson Palmquist holding on the the narrowest of leads 2-1. It was LONG ball, that got us there and it was supposed to be Mr Unstoppable to keep it that way. With Carson coming in, Gino made some defensive decisions removing two of our strongest hitters in what most felt was too early to do so. Crunch time in the 9th would be the test, when the defensive moves in the 6th, came to bat to decide extra innings or victory.
Starting lineup would shift back to the Friday night lineup with Toral and Gil batting 6 and 7 and Pitelli and Gabe in the 8th and 9th slot. Jake Garland would get his first schedule Sunday start. the BP was rested knowing that Carson waited in the wings to pitch the final 3 rather than 2 innings. Jake was asked to do what our starters have failed to do and that to get us to that position without utilizing the BP to do so.
Miami would draw first blood in the first, with a solo shot to right by Yoyo coming with 2 outs for his 9th of the year.
Jake through two innings looked strong retiring the side in order which had been a problem for us this series. It was the third that he ran into trouble throwing 19 pitches to retire the side giving up one run. Lead off single, their first hit, followed by a WP put a runner on second. Ground out 4-3 advanced the runner to 3rd. Hard grounder to 3rd, Yoyo held the runner before a strong throw to 1st for the 2nd out. A walk would put the runners on the corners, before a single to left would tie the score at one.
Miami would get the run back in the bottom half of the inning also coming with two outs. This time it was Lala, his 3rd, delivering to right to give Miami back the lead 2-1.
Jake sporting a one run lead, kept it there retiring the sides twice more in order (4,6) before Gino decided to call it the day and have a rested Carson take it the rest of the way. Jake was still going strong needing only 77 pitches and striking out 6 on 3 hits and one walk.
Carson who has been almost untouchable in relief, showed a break in performance giving up two bloop back to back single after recording an initial strikeout. With runners on the corners, It appeared that he was going to pitch his way out with a hard grounder to short setting up a DP. The throw by Pitelli to Vilar came in a bit high giving an unbalance throw to 1st ruled safe. Run scored, tying it at two.
No longer in the safe mode, it was to Carson to decide SWEEP or not. Carson known not to have base runners after giving up 2 singles in the 7th, gives up a 2 out walk in the 8th after striking out the first 2 batters and then giving up a leadoff single in the 9th . Not typical of what one expects to see coming from the UNSTOPPABLE, Carson still managed striking out 6 in the three innings pitched. Whether he would be called to pitch the 10th was probably going through Gino’s mind with our bottom of the order to hit.
With Alex no longer in the game, having had Gino making the defensive move in the 6th which brought in CJ to run for Alex who just got a single. Taking the bat out of his hand, CJ on the first pitch drives a single through the middle putting the winning run on first. Gil strikes out with a full count after going 3-0. Should have walked on a bad high outside call by the ump setting up the next two pitches being strikes. Lot of unhappy fans on that call. Dominic Pitelli who was never known for his bat, has lately shown an insurgence in his hitting. He defies the critics saying he is only playing for his defense with a double to right putting the winning run 90 feet away with just one out. Next to bat was the second defensive change made back in the 7th bringing in Tony Jenkins for Gabe Rivera. Tony who has been struggling the entire year batting only .111 (5-45) seeing very limited duty and only for defensive reasons. Now he is called upon facing his biggest challenge. Gino complaint with Tony is that he has not been aggressive enough. Enough said, Tony take the first pitch and Mark Light Magic strikes with a long fly over the CF head who was playing in for a play at the plate. CF didn’t even bother to even try to make a throw as Tony Jenkins completes his day with a SAC bunt in the 7th, but most importantly the SF in walk off fashion to get the SWEEP over the Clemson Tigers.
Offensively a very quiet day with the bats. Where a couple of solo HRs was all Miami had in their arsenal today, it wasn’t until the 9th, when three of the unlikeliest hitters (CJ,Pitelli, Jenkins) would be the decisive 1,2,3 punch to winning the game and capture the SWEEP. Again the LONG BALL would get us there but it was this trio,not known for their hitting ability, would take it the rest of the way. Two with multiple hits: Yoyo 2-4(HR,RBI); Pitelli 2-4(double). Lala would be the the other HR of the day. Miami would end the series pounding out 9 round trippers.Hitting today just .219 after a .375 and .382 the first two games. Bottom line: It is not what you hit, but when and the 9th was just that case in point
Defensively, no recorded errors and overall a very good performance by all.
Pitching, was our shining moment with Rosario returning to his former self and Jake in his first scheduled weekend start, did what was wanted of him: going deep to hand the ball over to Carson to close it out. The BP all weekend was at its best just giving up one run.
Return Wed for the final showdown with the Eagles of FGCU. Scheduled Start time 6PM.