By: Mike Kaffee, Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
Cross town rivals met in round two in the the Battle of the 305 to determine bragging rights for this season. Last week the Canes made a commanding statement in a one sided contest that did not end well for the Panthers as the Canes took round one 21-1. Tonight, the Panthers came to even the score and avoid a sweep. The usual mid week starter Jake Garland was a last minute scratch and Gino decided to go with “Pitch by Committee”. Only explanation given is that he was unavailable. It was a tight fought pitching duel through the first 3 innings. Panthers answered first with putting two on the board with a swing of the bat.Luis Chavez goes long over the scoreboard to give FIU the early lead 2-0. Miami answers in the bottom half of the inning with three of their own to take the lead and hold it for the remainder of the game. Miami would add a run in the 5th and 4 more in the 7th by going long ball twice. Trailing 8-2 in the 8th, once again FIU takes the ball long for a solo HR to bring them within 5. For the Panthers, it would be their final charge as the victory flag flies over the LIGHT as victors of the Battle of the 305.
Mid week lineup remains the same with DC as the DH and Carlos Perez batting 9th behind the plate. Pitching by Committee tonight Andrew Walters got the rock to start the game. Six pitchers who we don’t normally see from the BP tonight had an opportunity to show what they can do. Down the stretch, the BP is going to be an important factor on how far we go postseason. Walters, McFarlane, Smith each pitched two innings and Munroe, Regalado, and Bodanza an inning apiece.
As stated, for both sides it was a pitching duel where Miami did not see their first hit until the 4th inning. 4th inning last week Miami had already scored 8 runs on 9 hits. While our bats were totally silent through 3, FIU led off the 2nd with a double and threatened with the first score when a WP sent the runner to 3rd with no outs. Grounder to 3rd, the runner on third was off on contact. Rather than conceding the run, Yoyo fires the ball home and Perez awaits the charging Panther only to be call out with the ball arriving a good 5 steps ahead of runner.
All quiet until the 4th and FIU revisits of getting on the board with a 2 out single. McFarlane replaced Walters after having pitched his 2 innings and was on his way to another scoreless inning when a 2 out single through the middle changed the course of the game. 2-0 count to Chavez and Alex serves him a pitch he would want back because it sails over the scoreboard giving them the lead (2-0) and us being in shocked after last week’s total control from start to finish.
Call it a wake up call, because Miami knew that FIU came to make this a contest and the bats needed to come alive. Lala opens with a walk followed with Vilar getting the first hit of the night. Runners on the corners, the pitcher gets called with a balk cutting the lead in half with a free pass home. Yoyo is hit by pitch and that brings the end of the day for their starter. Before the reliever has a chance to even settle into any sort of rhythm, he is called for a balk advancing the runners at 1st and 2nd one base. DC grounds out but Vilar scores to tie the game at two. Not to be outdone Big Brother gets the go ahead run with a SF to center to give the Canes the lead 3-2.
FIU threatened to tie the score in the 5th with a runner on second two outs and a single to right had the runner on second waved home in attempt to tie the score at 3. Gabe fielding the ball fires a rocket to home and a close play at the plate the runner is called out. No appeal is made.
Holding a one run lead going into the bottom half of the 5th, Carlos Perez doubles down the LF line to bring in Gabe who opened the inning after making that great throw to extend the lead 4-2.
Two innings later, any chance FIU had hoped for in getting back in the game died in the 7th. LONG ball times two put the kibosh on any thoughts that they might be able to rally in the final innings. Miami would bat around scoring 4 times with a solo shot by Dominic Pitelli in his first HR of the season. Back to back HP (Perez,Lala), weird ground out by Vilar of 3-4-3 put runners on 2nd and 3rd. WP brings the runner from third home, and Yoyo with his 7th HR of the season puts 2 more on the board extending the lead to 8-2.
In one final effort, FIU goes LONG one final time scoring all three of their runs via HR. Spencer Bodanza comes in replacing Regalado in the 9th who had given up the HR in the 8th and strikes out the sides. McFarlane records his first win
Offensively, not exactly the powerhouse performance everyone was expecting, but a win is a win. Six hits only but half for extra bases which tallies up the score a lot quicker than singles. 2 HRs accounted for 3 of the 8 runs and the double by Perez accounted for one. Pitelli got his first HR and Yoyo his team leading 7th both in the same inning.
Defensively, another solid performance all around with a Sport’s Gem Throw by Gabe in the 5th on his throw to home
Pitching wise, a chance for the BP to show what they can do. No word as to why Garland did not pitch tonight but Gino felt confident enough to pitch by committee. This was an opportunity that may not come again utilizing the BP like we did tonight, but now Gino can do a bit more diversification in who he brings in in the future
Might have to use some of these arms come this weekend against Pitt. The experience gained tonight will prove invaluable if not for Pitt but for the rest of the season and beyond. Question if Rosario is out for a period of time you are going to need the arms of those who pitched tonight.