By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
The bats are definitely back. The Canes coming off an impressive win against the Owls of FAU Tuesday night, continued to demonstrate that Tuesday night 11 run 10 hit breakout game was no fluke. It took 5 innings to get the juices flowing but then the hitting became electrified puting 5 big ones on the board capped off with Alex Toral’s First homer of the year coming off the scoreboard in left field with two on. Just prior to to Alex opening the game, CDC with two outs hits a line drive off the RF wall with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Big Brother initially came to the plate with BL but a WP brought Lala sliding home for the first run of 5. Miami did not let up on the throttle with two more in the 6th on Anthony Vilar’s 2nd HR of the year to RF with a runner on. Not to be done for the night, they put the coup de grace with one in the 7th and another in the 8th to complete the 10-0 shutout. What makes this even sweeter was the pitching performance of Alejandro Rosario in his debut as the Friday night starter. 7 solid innings of just one hit ball which after watching the replay of the hit not gloved by Yoyo at 3rd, it is debatable whether he could have made the play rather than stopping the bullet going under his glove. Irregardless, 7 strikeouts and two walks is what Friday night pitching is all about. You want an impressive win going into the weekend and Alejandro and the bats of the Canes did just that and a whole lot more.
Starting lineup a bit of surprise for me because after Tuesday night performance I would have thought CJ Kayfus had earned a starting consideration in tonight’s contest. Instead Alex Toral got the call to start at first base tonight. Batting an unimpressive .167, I felt something was not right. CJ just came off an evening of a double and a HR and not start; why? Learned after the game that Alex was a last minute replacement, because CJ was under the weather. Here is the perfect example of one door shut and another opens. Alex’s 3-4 night performance of just short of the cycle(triple) with 3 RBIs just might have earned his starting role reclaimed. As for Gil, I believe he is history unless something happens to Yoyo or Pitelli at 3rd and short. Tony Jenkins still filling in for Chad Born recovering from a strain he received in Sunday’s game running to first. Unlike Alex, Tony now batting .094 after going 0-2 is not helping his cause to regain his slot back in center. Although hitless tonight he had two excellent contacts driving the ball deep. Unlike Gil, I have not given up on Tony and for Alex, tonight might have been the return of the Alex we have seen over the pass 2 years.
There was a question on whether this series would get to be played. Wake coming off of a 12 day absence due to COVID is still not at 100% back. I believe I heard that they had to leave 11 pitchers at home and there is concern whether they will have anyone to pitch come Sunday. Saturday is still a green light. At least it was when I left the LIGHT tonight.
Alejandro started strong with the first two outs having the Deacons looking as the fastball whizzed by them. It was the second inning that Rosario started having trouble finding the plate. All 5 batters faced drove the count to full or to 3 balls. Ended up throwing 30 pitches before returning to the dugout. Although no runs scored, it did not appear that his control was not at its best.
Going into the 3rd, Miami was not making it any easier on our young freshman pitcher, with not helping his course still looking for their first hit. With two outs, Lala continued his streak reaching base 18 of his last 20 games with a walk. Steals second, setting it up for Vilar to continue his hitting streak now at 8 to score the first run. It should be noted the play by Michael Turconi at short could have easily been ruled an error as well as the next play also ruled a hit rather than another flob by the shortstop. The scorer did give him an error in the 2nd on a DC grounder back to him to open the second. Turconi overall did not have a very good night with another recorded error in the 8th costing a run making it 2 errors actual and 2 that could have ruled otherwise. Add an 0-4 evening with 2 strikeouts sent his average from team high of .414 to .364. A day he will want to quickly erase from his memory.
Still 1-0, going into the 5th, you had to wonder where had the inspired Canes from Tuesday have gone. Was it a fluke or not. Rosario still maintaining shutout one hit ball, but with no support offensively. That all becomes ancient history with a 8 man outpouring of 5 runs on three hits. It would start with Lala’s one out walk, followed by Vilar’s single putting runners of 1st and 2nd. Yoyo would advance runners one base with a ground out to 3rd. Rather than pitch to DC, he is intentionally walked to load the bases. You bypass one brother to face another who has not been the lesser of two evils for opposing pitchers. With BL, CDC never gets the chance for the Grand Salami, because alertness by Lala at 3rd challenges their catcher’s recovery from a WP to slide home under the glove of the pitcher. Runners on 2nd and 3rd, Big Brother make them regret them pitching to him with a line drive off the right field wall for a 2 run double. Three runs in, with more to come now having to face a revitalize Alex Toral who takes the second pitch off the scoreboard in left to complete the scoring of 5 and breaking open the game at 6-0.
With the bats finally finding the sweet spot, they add another two in the next inning with Anthony making it #2 for the season over the LC field fence with a runner on. This extends the score to 8-0 and it has now been declared a blowout. Not to close the door and keep the momentum going the 7th bring in another run on a RBI single by Jared Thomas and in the 8th once again by CDC on a RBI single with runners on the corners extending the lead to 10-0.
There was no 9th for the Canes as Alex McFarlane who had come in to pitch in the 8th shutting the door taking the final 3 batters in order.
Offensively, opposition take warning. The hype has become a reality. Three in multiple numbers, two of which going 3-4 and Anthony Vilar on top with 3 RBIs to 2 from Alex Toral. Alex adds to the HR and single with a double just one shy of the cycle (triple). Sure he is not complaining cause he looks like he is back on track and the team could not be happier. CDC adds his mix with a 2-4 evening (double, 3RBI) to complement his two teammates. 11 hits overall for a team batting of .289 tonight and with RISP of .375 (6-16)
Defensively, another night of errorless ball. Give one mental to Yoyo in the 4th for letting the ball get under his glove for the only hit to be given up by Rosario but in his defense it was hard hit. Toral escaped from an error in the first by a great play by Vilar 3-4-1 to end the first.
Lastly, the report card on pitching. Having Alejandro Rosario moved to Friday night is long overdue. For his third start he has shown to be as advertised. He was solid on the mound and expect strong consideration for ACC Pitcher of the Week He is only a freshman and just getting started. McFarlane gave another strong support coming out of the BP. Only 2 pitchers used leaving a rested BP and a much earned rest for Carson Palmquest. I still have my doubts on still keeping Federman in the weekend rotation but until Gino ends his love affair with him, I guess we will endure another outing. Maybe , like Toral it could be the series that turn things around for him and Gino will prove me wrong once again. If Daniel can’t give a quality performance he just might join Raymond Gil on the bench and await for his next opportunity to work himself back in the rotation.
Tomorrow , the time has been moved up to 6PM start to to Daylight Saving Saturday night. Victor Mederos will get the call for first pitch.