By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
The Eagle has landed and laid an egg in the 9th enabling a bit of Mark Light Magic to light the twilight skies for the first time this year. In probably the most bizarre plays of the season, CJ Kayfus sets the scene for a dramatic finish coming with a walkoff single by Anthony Vilar. Just a month ago, same team in a lopsided 15-2 trouncing coming on a 15 hit barrage was a totally different team today. Despite the Eagles 5 errors, Miami was only to take advantage once leaving 10 players stranded on the base pads as Miami is unable to get the job done once again. It looked like deja vu all over again with the starting pitcher not getting beyond the 3rd inning and hitting into a DP in the 8th inning with BL. Reminisces of Pitt flashed before everyone’s eyes as missed opportunities appeared looming on the horizon. Mental error by the Eagles in the 9th set the wheels in motion for the eventual W.
Being the mid week game, Gino went with the change in catchers but today had Gil starting in place of Yoyo; missing his first game of the season. Lala returned to his lead off position and responded with a 2-4 day. Anthony batting 2nd with DC and CDC moving up one slot. Gil,playing 3rd,batting 5th, followed by Toral, Gabe, and Pitelli. Carlos Perez batting 9th. Jake Smith gets the mid week start in lieu of Jake Garland. Appears Gino, still unsure who will be filling the mid-week billing.
Miami started as if they were going to take control early and run up the score as anticipated. Lala opened with an infield single hit to deep SS. Vilar reaches base on an E3. After DC fouls out to 3rd, CDC gets his first of 3 hits with an RBI single. Toral would load the bases with 2 outs bringing Gabe to the plate. Facing a similar situation back in the 5th at Ft Myers, a repeat with a grand slam would not to be. Following the recent trend, Gabe strikes out leaving 3 left of the pads.
Jake after a quick 1st inning of just 15 pitches retiring the Eagles in order, started a bit of wavering with a HP followed with a walk, but held without a score. The 3rd, the wavering got a bit stronger with an opening walk and single followed by a deep shot to center putting runners on the corners. Gino not liking what he has seen,decides to make the switch after just 2.1 innings. After this weekend’s performance by our BP, one had to think what the heck is Gino doing. Brings in Andrew Walters, who started last Wednesday against FIU and only lasted 2 innings. Change in pitchers became even dicey when a WP brings a run in tying the score at one. Runner at first advanced to second. A walk followed by a balk now put runners on 2nd and 3rd one out and Gino’s decision to make the switch to Walters looked really questionable. As quickly as doubts loomed, the light bulb clicked on and Andrew proceeds with 6 straight strikeouts.
Alex leads off the 4th, with #4 of his own clearing the fence in right with a Toral bomb giving the Canes the lead once again 2-1. After 6 straight strikeouts the Eagles end the streak with a HR of their own to tie the score at 2. Walters would stay in to complete the inning ending with his 7th strikeout. Daniel Federman brought in to start the 5th and remain for the rest of the game.
Both teams would play to a stalemate until the 8th inning. Miami unable to capitalize in the 5th after Lala opens the inning with a single and advances to second on a throwing error by the catcher to first. Lala
not long on second travels to third on an APO at second putting a runner on third no outs. that is where Lala would remain for the rest of the inning.
The 8th became deja vu time, set up by a mental error by CDC. He would open the 8th with a single to left, third hit of the day, and would be joined by Alex with his second hit of the day coming with one out. Runners on first and second, Gabe hits a clear single to center but rather than CDC running towards third and scoring decides to run back to second almost meeting Alex just about arriving at the same base. Realizing the error of his way, CDC reverses direction and proceeds to third but now unable to complete his journey home. Pitelli, having an 0-3 day makes it 0-4 doing what the Canes do best with BL; hitting into a DP 4-6-3. Prior to the inevitable DP, Pitelli attempted a failed squeeze fouling the pitch. The score remained tied at 2.
Carson was waiting in the wings if given the call if it went to extra innings. Thanks to CJ Kayfus, he set the inning in motion with as mentioned earlier, the most bizarre play ever. CJ hits a soft grounder to first. Rather than the 1B taking a few steps backward and touch the bag for the unassisted first out, decides to tag CJ instead. Quick thinking by CJ, he sees an opening between the 1B legs and slides between them reaching first safely. 1B never expected such a move nor anyone else. Never had a chance to apply the tag caught totally off guard. Lala lays down a beautiful SAC advancing CJ to second. Anthony with a count 1-1, hit and run was the signal and Anthony times it perfectly providing the first Mark Light Magic of the season with a walk off single.
Offensively, the team with all their power and just not getting the job done. Only two runs with half of their hits coming in the final two innings. Overall hitting was 286 compared to the Eagles .167 but managed to keep the score tied at 2 into the 9th. We left 10 on base and with runners on 3rd with less than 2 outs we were 0-3. Key hits have not found its way to the Miami bats as often as we would like. 3 players with multiple hits: Lala 2-4; CDC 3-4 (RBI); Alex 2-3 (HR,RBI). 10 hits. All but one were singles. As I have been saying: Small ball does not win ball games. If we are going to be contenders within the ACC, we better start seeing more than a single or we will see more Pitt disasters in the coming weeks.
Defense, there were some web gem specials including the DP by Gil doubling off the runner at first with a bullet throw in the 6th and diving lay out your body by CDC coming in the 7th. Another game of error free ball.
Pitching, it looked like another day of our starter not getting beyond the 3rd and looking for the BP save the day which has been anything but. Today it was a different story and Walters and Federman toed the line and did what they was suppose to. Today it was the offense who almost dropped the ball. Daniel picked up 3rd win of the season much deserved pitching a solid 4 innings of 3 hit ball.
Friday a weekend series with Clemson. We better play a whole lot better in all categories or it might be another disappointing weekend. A tiger’s roar might prove to stand the ground better than the flight of the eagle today.