By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
SNAKE BITTEN. For the second time, a controversial call coming again in the 6th inning would prove venomous to the eventual outcome of of the game. Opportunity presented itself, but the offense failed to capitalized on hitting into 4 very costly DPs that could have changed the whole complexion of the game and possibly even the series at one apiece going into Sunday finale. Instead, Miami will be fighting to salvage one game in the series to prevent a sweep.
No change in today’s lineup. Victor Mederos would be the starter for game two.
The first inning, it looked everything was going Miami’s way. Offensively, we appeared to have the magic back putting the first run on the board with an RBI single by CDC with runners on the corners. Yesterday, the offense started sluggish striking out 6 times in the first three innings. The same with pitching where Victor was in total control striking out two of the three batters faced requiring just 14 pitches.
All expectations ended in the second with the offense going down in order on three ground outs and Victor not being able to find the strike zone. Walked the first two batters faced only able to locate the zone just twice. Taking the count to full on the third batter faced, an RBI single ties the score at one. Tasting blood, An aggressive Panther offense pressed the attack utilizing the bunt and getting the key hit with a runner in scoring position to add two more runs before retiring. By inning’s end, Pitt has taken control of the game and leading 3-1
The 3rd, Miami not the team to roll over answers with two of their own to tie the score at 3. Anthony one out single set the wheels in motion and Yoyo grabs on with an RBI double and makes his way home on an throwing error by the 2B to first. CDC is hit by pitch putting runners on 1st and 2nd one out. With the momentum swifting with opportunity of breaking it open with a big inning: DISASTER #1 strikes. Alex hits a line drive to third doubling off DC unable to get back to second. Still two runs across to tie the score at 3.
Pitt did not wait long to answer and drove the fatal blow to Victor to start the inning. Still having control issues after throwing ball one to the first batter faced, his second pitch hits him which would mark the end of the day for him lasting just two innings. This put Miami in dire hurts with a limited BP; things did not look bright. Gino expected Victor to last at least 5 innings since this is where he has always had his problems losing control. Today, not getting by the first batter in the third, the BP would be asked to do what lately has become the impossible as shown by yesterday’s performance. They gave up 9 of the 12 runs amassed and for the second day they are being called in the third to hold back the bleeding where the offense could respond and for Carson to save the day. Jake Smith would be given the call in relief. Aggressiveness, is what the Panthers answered with, stealing second and third before an RBI single gave them the lead once again at 4-3. Add another in the 4th on an RBI double after an opening walk, stealing second and another HP. The RBI double extended the lead 5-3.
DISASTER #2 struck in the 6th for the second time in two days. CDC opened the inning with single to right bringing Alex to the plate. He hits a grounder to second setting up the DP, but the 2B fumbles the ball and CDC beats the toss to second being call safe. This would have put runners on 1st and 2nd no outs. Pitt manager appeals calling for runner interference. CDC slid into the front of the bag clearly safe but his other leg came in contact with the SS knocking him down on his relay to first. The appeal was upheld and both runners ruled out. The argument probably made by Gino was the slide was good but the timing was off with the 2B fumbling the ball causing the interruption of play by the SS. The disputed DP became even more damaging with Raymond gil on the first pitch goes LONG for the 3rd time in the series and rather being a 3RBI HR, it is a solo HR which has them trialing by one rather than leading by 2.
Pitt sees opportunity working positively for them answers once again in the bottom half of the inning where aggressiveness once again on the pads pays dividends. One out walk turns into a runner on second with another successful steal. First pitch off the wall in left center for a double to extend the lead to 6-4.
DISASTER #3 AND #4 coming in the final two innings would prove pivotal in the final outcome. Twice the offense presented themselves to change the course of the game only to be struck on both occasions with a DP. Both times coming with BL. The 8th, It was Raymond Gil presented the opportunity coming off the solo HR in the 6th to change the direction of the game. What you did not want was a strikeout or what he does being a 4-6-3 inning ending DP. The 9th, opportunity was even riper with no outs and BL and Anthony Vilar at bat. Pitelli had opened the inning with a single and then back to back hit batters (Gabe,Thomas(PHfor Lala)). Mental error by Gabe at 2nd resulted in the most unusual DP imaginable. Anthony flies out to left but not deep enough for Pitelli to tag from 3rd. The throw is into third and the 3B sees Gabe thinking the throw was going to home is caught in no-mans land and get thrown out trying to get back to second. Threat still not totally dead having runners on the corners now with 2 outs and Yoyo to bat. Having had already 2 hits today, looking for #3. Not to be for Yoyo or the Canes. Strikes out looking ending in disappointment of what could have been.
Offensively, the bats out hit Pitt 8-6, but the difference is that they got the key hits when required and we did not. they were.333 with RISP to our .100. Two players in multiple number. Yoyo 2-5 (double,RBI); CDC 3-3 (RBI). Additionally one HR by Raymond Gil; his third in the series. Offensively, today was not our finest hour. 4 Opportunities to change the course of the game and failing to do so. The one positive was only striking out just 3 times. We put the ball in play but not finding the openings when it matter most which Pitt with less hits did so
Pitching we did not get what was need by our starting pitcher. He had to go at least 6 innings and only going two just does not work. With the BP the way it is, we are in unknown territory on whether they can keep us close enough to turn it over to what has been our ROCK in the name of Carson Palmquest. Gino is stretching the envelope having him pitch two innings but he has always been there to answer the call. This is a team effort and if the offense can’t give us the lead or the starter not go deep, don’t look for much success until we have a healthier BP or the bats more consistent.
Tomorrow, it is to take away one game and prevent a SWEEP. Start time 1PM and yet to be announced starting pitcher. Will be either Dubberly or Rosario if Gino thinks he is healthy enough.