By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
Repeat after me: LOOONG BALLL: Finally the drought has ended and we are beginning to see what these guys are capable of doing at the plate. Total of 4 HRs were long lost over the wind friendly fences of Doak Field. wind or no wind having back-to-back-back HRS is something you don’t see that often. The last time this happen was against Boston College on April 29, 2017. Yoyo joins good company alongside DC who last hit 2 homers in a game as a freshman May 31 2019. Mark your calendar: 7 April 2021 just might be the date when we turned everything around. NOt only are we possibly turning the corner hitting wise but the defense is looking more like the defense of a champion team. It took removing two veterans from the starting lineup to make this happen. Miami had the #1 recruiting class in the nation and our youngsters are making their names be known with Yoyo Morales leading the charge.We still have a long ways to go so don’t get overly excited.The likes of Carson Palmquest is always exciting to see that in a close game this is a person you can feel most comfortable with. Not since Kyle Bellamy and Bryan Garcia have we had a Closer that can actually close. When they stepped on the mound you knew victory was soon at hand. Gino is a fast learner in this respect. If only he could do the same for the Friday night starter. This is a hole that needs to filled most haste even it means moving Rosario to Friday and Mederos to Saturday. If Gino and J D don’t have a 3rd weekend starter they feel comfortable with pitch by committee on Sunday until someone answers the call. You just can’t keep utilizing someone who is broken in the hope he will mend himself. Move on.
However, no need to talk about tomorrow when there is much to celebrate today. Gino seems to be pretty well locked in the starting 4 (Lala,Vilar, Morales, DC) but after today maybe not so with Alex batting 5th. With 6 strikeouts this weekend (2/game), he just isn’t getting the bat around in time. May be a loss of a few pounds would energize his timing and lateral movement on the field. That or have him checked for glasses. At .174 this is not the Alex you want to see. CDC batting 6th, might see a bump upward come next game. CJ Kayrus up a spot to 7th after the HR yesterday with Chad Born replacing Tony in center and Pitelli batting 9th which seems to fit just right in the rotation. Batting .316 Dominic is an ideal setup for the top of the lineup. Tony who like some of the other veterans trying to find his eye (batting .107) might get the opportunity to redeem himself after Chad Born was taken out of the game in the 5th with an possible hamstring pull. Let’s hope it is not that and he will be able to return to the lineup soon. Freshman Victor Mederos on the mound.
Somewhat of a different start for both teams not getting anything started until the 4th inning. Took a bit longer for the Canes to unload but they did so in style in the 6th and never looked back. Both teams followed pretty much the same pattern in the first with neither scoring, leadoff batter singling and then worked themselves into a DP.
The Pack would be the first to alter the pitching battle in the 4th with a leadoff walk on 4 straight pitches followed by a 2 run shot to right to take the early lead at 2-0 and following it up in the next inning with an RBI double. The Wolfpack were aggressive taking advantage of the sluggishness in response coming from a one out single to right which CDC did not charge and the runner ended at second. WP followed and DC a bit slow to recover enabling the runner now at 2nd advance to 3rd. Following the WP, an RBI double put the spread at two and indicators of Mederos no longer having his control. A second WP and Gino had seen enough and brought in Alex McFarlane to stop the bleeding. At a 3-0 deficit, Gino could not afford to let this go any deeper in the hole. Mission accomplished. Pop up to 3rd ended the 5th.
After 5 scoreless innings with only 4 singles, Lala was about to change the whole complexion of the game and hopefully kickstart a new beginning. Jordan opens with a walk and proceeds to steal 2nd successfully. Then the ignition of explosions off the bats of Vilar, followed by Yoyo to tie the score at 3 and DC to take it to the next step with completing back-to-back-to back HRs and the lead (4-3). Lala who started it all off returns for his 2nd of bat for the inning and with BL, after 2 consecutive walks prior, takes a 5 pitch walk to extend the lead to 2. Total of 11 batters would make it to the plate this inning.
The Pack were not going to drown in the sorrows, with a run of their own to recoup the now 2 run differential. After a leadoff walk and single, Gino was quick to replace McFarlane with Ben Wanger. A failed SAC, PO back to Ben, was short lived with a walk to load the bases. SF to right put them within one and the call to the BP once again, bringing in Anthony Arguelles to end the potential rally with a K.
With a one run lead going into the 7th, it was history making time for Yoyo leading off and taking a powering shot off the CF screen for his 2nd HR of the game doing so back-to-back and returning the lead back to 2.
Arguelles stayed in to pitched the 7th, before Gino not taking any chances and the call is made to the BP for Palmquest once again to come out in the 8th, making sure that things remain the same and we come home with the series. 22 Pitches, 2 strikeout, with just one hit through two innings. The 9th, Carson took them down 1,2,3 for his second save this weekend.
Offensively, needless to say it was a Yoyo day going 3-5 with 2 HRs and 2 RBIs.One other batter with multiple hits. That being CDC with a 2-3 day. 4 long balls was definitely a game changer. Hopefully this was the igniter to jump start an offensive barrage of what this team is capable of. There should be no letup on the throttle. It is full speed ahead with no stops ahead in the run to Omaha.
Defensively, with the addition of Yoyo and Dominic to the left side of the infield and Anthony and CJ to the right, we should see our numbers improving in protection of the lines and through the middle.
Pitching starting rotation is missing Friday night. Will probably continue to vent until Gino throws away his loyalty and decides enough is enough. Have Daniel earn his way back into the starting 3. The BP is solid at the end and we need to make sure more consistency is shown from our middle relievers getting to that point.
We need to put what we learned this weekend Tues night, 6PM, when we face off against a rank FAU team that always seem to give us problems. As for the weekend series with WF this looks doubtful because of COVID. Hopefully a replacement can be found giving our players a chance to work on their offensive/defensive skills before meeting arch rivals FSU the following weekend.