By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
“There is no joy in Caneville tonight, for the Mighty Miami has been SWEPT out”. Slight change to the poem Mighty Casey Striking Out written back in 1888, but it is as meaningful today as it was so long ago. Going into today‘s game, Miami was in a rare spoiler’s mode looking for the first time to avoid being swept by a surprising Pitt team. They were picked preseason to be in the cellar of the Coastal and us at the top. All our numbers on paper reflected that Miami was a powerhouse of some of the finest hitting put together on one team. Homerun power top to bottom in the lineup with a star pitching rotation and a decent BP to back them up. Unfortunately, everything on paper has yet to be reflected on the field. What was not forecast was having a Closer unmatched in college baseball. Even today, he could not pull the rabbit out of the hat giving up his 2nd HR and driving his ERA above 1 (1.46). The team is still struggling with so many issues primarily in pitching. Starters not going deep enough and the BP not being able to do the job asked of them. Offense, inability to get key hits and runs and the bats burning out after the first few innings. Today, just another example of the problems that has been following us all season. Score early, and nothing afterwards.Put 4 runs up early in the second and proceed with 11 unanswered runs before coming up with a token one run with BL twice in the 8th. Mental toughness has paid in price at times in poor base running and not being able to field a play at a critical time which if asked the player they have performed on a regular basis. Not to take anything away from Pitt. They outplayed us, out hit us and got the key hits when called upon. They had the drive, determination, and hunger which we were unable to match.
Minor alteration in the lineup with Lala being dropped from leadoff for the first time to batting 9th after an 0-8 weekend. Leading off instead was Dominic Pitelli. Gabe moved up to batting 8th with the rest of the batting order remaining the same. Gino stuck with his Sunday starter Jordan Dubberly keeping a supposedly healthy Rosario in reserve if needed.
If we had any chance of winning, our starter would have to go deep for our BP has struggled in getting the job done. The first inning, Red Flags started waving early and it looked like an early exit for Jordan. Like all the pitchers this weekend, control in finding the pitch zone drove the pitch count up and runners reaching base. Today it started with an opening walk followed up with a single to center. Third batter is hit to load the bases with no outs. The next two batters start with a 3-0 count which miraculously turns around into three straight strikes. A flyout to left and Miami escapes from going into the hole and a long road to climb out from. Not on the bright side, the pitch count was at 25 and the hope for our starter to go the necessary deepness in innings was in doubt.
The second inning in response to the Jordan’s pitching performance, the offense would stir the fires with 4 runs highlighted by a leadoff double by CDC followed up by an one out RBI single by Alex up the middle. Gabe would walk putting runners on 1st and 2nd setting it up for Dominic Pitelli to clear the bases with his 2nd HR of the season giving Miami a 4-0 lead.This would hold until the 4th inning with Pitt tying the score at 4. RBI double with runners on 2nd and 3rd and finalized with a 2 run HR sending Dubberly to the dugout. Miami forced to go to the BP and Bodanza would be given the call to end the bleed which he did on the one batter he faced.
Score tied at 4, Miami turns to Alejandro Rosario hoping his strained oblique had been completely cleared to return to his former self and carry the team deep enough to turn it over to Carson.
For one inning, he looked like his old self only to have his world come crashing down around him in the 6th. After recording the first out, 3 straight hits to load the bases followed by a 4th bringing in 2 runs leaving runners on the corners. SF to center for the 3rd run of the inning. Unfortunately, the damage did not end there. An error on a grounder to third which could have ended the inning instead put runners on 1st and 2nd. WP followed by a walk loaded the bases.1-1 pitch to Bryce Hulett and the base pads are cleared with Pitts 2nd grand slam in the series which also came in the 6th. After 1.2 innings our regular Friday night starter walks back to the dugout with his head hanging low. Anthony Arguelles is brought in to end the inning but damage has been done with 7 runs put up on the board giving them a commanding 11-4 lead.
Carson Palmquest brought in to finish out, not to save but to provide the opportunity to get a couple of innings to pitch. Struck out the sides in Carson fashion in the 7th after hitting the second batter he faced.
Trailing 12-4 going into the 8th, the offense only had enough for one run after loading the bases twice. The lone run came on a Lala SF to left. Pitelli would walked to reload the bases only to have Vilar ground out to first to finalized the effort of getting back into the ballgame.
Pitt would regain the run back in answering with a solo HR; the second given up by Carson this season. Miami ended the series in style with CDC grounding into a 4-6-3 DP.
Not the finest hour for Miami. Pitching has got to find a way to keep runs off the board while the offense needs to find ways to put them on the board. If the BP stays as ineffective as it has been this series, the team is going to continue to struggle especially if the bats can’t provide the key hits when called upon. You can’t strut if you can’t back it up and right now they are playing in their shadows.
Two players with multiple numbers: DC 2-4; Alex 2-3 (RBI). CDC and Kayfus both had doubles and Pitelli his 2nd HR of the year. Lala and Yoyo were both hitless.
Pitching, it comes down to the starters not getting beyond the 3rd inning, With Mederos only getting 2 innings of work before being relieved. With a BP not being able to hold off until passing the rock to Carson, we move into uncertain times in the second half of the season.Today, we even found Carson not to be unstoppable with his second HR given up.
Time to reload next week with FGCU and Clemson coming to town. This is a critical time and hopefully the team will be better prepared in all categories.