By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
NC last swept Miami in 2009, and will have to wait for another day as Miami avoided the sweep with a very decisive win holding the Tarheels to just one run. Behind the strong pitching of starter Jake Garland accompanied with an equal display of Miami hits and runs not seen in the first two games, Miami cruised to an 8-1 victory. NC got off to an early 1-0 lead in the first as Jake struggled requiring 23 pitches to retire the side.After a struggling first, Jake settled in completing 6 innings before turning in over to the BP. The BP which had only given up one run through the first two games, continued providing excellent support in not giving up a hit or run. For NC, the 1st inning would be their thunder for the day. From the second inning on, it was the Miami offense taking charge. NC had the opportunity in the 4th, 5th and 6th to get back in the game getting their lead off hitter on, only to see it end with 3 DPs. Miami added 3 more in the 7th and another in the 9th to cap off the victory and avoid the sweep.
The Sleeping Giant finally awoke from a 2 day hiatus batting around in the 2nd starting with a leadoff walk to DC. It would be the bottom of the order that would provide the spark which would ignite the bats sending the offense into overdrive. Raymond Gil’s one out double to left set up the first scoring opportunity putting runners on second and third. Alex would follow up with an opposite field single scoring 2, which not realizing it at the time the winning run. Two batters later, it was the Dominic Pitelli show with his 4th Round tripper of the season giving Miami a 4-1 lead.
Miami would get an opportunity again to add runs to their total the next inning with a leadoff double by DC. Two outs followed before Alex is intentionally walked, followed with Gabe walking to load the bases. The hero the inning before, Dominic Pitelli, with his 2 run shot, unfortunately could not duplicate grounding out to 1st stranding 3.
The 5th, brought up a controversial call which had both managers charging out of the dugouts to argue their case. The Heels started the inning, like the 4th with a leadoff single. Top of the order, a long fly to left is initially mishandled by Lala but he recovered the ball before hitting the ground and turned it into a DP 7-3. The appeal was not whether he finished with the ball in his glove but whether he caught the ball cleanly after colliding with the wall. It appeared through replay that he might have received assistance from the LF wall but I assume the umps could not verify if the ball hit the wall or not after Jordan initially fumbled with the ball. No explanation was given but it was ruled an out resulting in a DP. The NC coach was irate with the decision and for him lucky he was not thrown out.
Bad luck continued NC’s way just one inning later. Like the 2 innings before, it started off with a leadoff single only to see it end with another DP. This time from Yoyo taking a line drive shot in foul territory and turning it with the runner not able to return to first in time.
Everything was going Miami’s way and continued so into the 7th with back to back singles by the Brothers. Gil hits a high pop up between 2nd and 3rd. The IF fly rule called but the ball dropped between the SS and 3B each not calling for it. When things go wrong, it is hard to get back on track. Gil called out but two batters later Carlos Perez,PH for Gabe, takes the 1st pitch to RC scoring two with a 2 out double. Dominic adds a 3rd run to the inning with a double of his own scoring Perez from second.
Score 7-1 into the 9th, the final nail into the coffin with a SF by who else,Dominic Pitelli for his 4th RBI of the day. This was set up with back to back walks to CDC and Gil and CJ Kayfus,PH for Alex, getting hit by pitch. For the second time in the day, Canes had BL. This time with no outs. Perez takes the 3rd strike looking,setting it up for Dominic’s SF. Runners now on 1st and 2nd. Lala gets his 4th single of the day and Gil who was on second is called out at the plate,review, 8-3-2.
Trailing 8-1, with Carson Palmquest on the mound it was academic in the 9th for the Heels. Down in order, Miami avoids the sweep and will leave Chapel Hill on a positive note.
Offensively, after a very lackluster first two games, 5 extra base hits (4doubles, 1HR) behind a 14 hit outpouring. 5 with Multiple numbers: Lala 4-6;DC 2-4(double); CDC 2-4; Toral 2-3 (2RBIs); and Dominic Pitelli with the big stick 2-4(2B,HR,SF, 4RBIs). Gil and Perez got the other two doubles. Overall hitting today was .368. The question to be asked: where was all this hitting the first two games where non situational hitting was the order of the day.
Pitching wise it was the BP that was front and center. One run on 4 hits of relief work for the series.5 and 4.1 innings for the starters in the first 2 games which is not what you want. Jake went 6 today after starting with a 23 1st inning pitch count. We need 6 or 7 innings from our starters which we have been finding hard to accomplished. The BP is getting stronger and of course we have Palmquest to close it if it is close. It is the starting rotation that needs to get their act together if we are to move forward.
The question remains: which Miami team is taking to the field. We have not seen any consistency and the roller coaster ride continues to find the solid denominator to our hitting and pitching trying to get them on the same page. FGCU and Boston next weekend should be an opportunity to do just that. First pitch Tues 6PM against the Eagles of FG