Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
[email protected]

With the start of the regular season one week away, the concern, like every year is whether the pitching staff will be ready and will the BP able to hold up to their end. Two of our starters, Gage Ziehl and Rafe Schlesinger, were out to show that they were ready and for the most part I have to agree. Each pitched 5 innings and as a whole, they did it quite well. Rafe had one bad inning coming in the third which having hit a batter might have affected his performance with the next 3 batters but like any good pitcher shook it off striking out the last two batters faced to finish the inning.  Gage had to throw a few more pitches than Rafe and had to deal with more runners on base but 3 of the 5 innings pitched kept the runner from crossing home plate. Relievers Brandon Olivera and Nick Robert finished the day with an inning each. For the past two sessions, the quality of pitching has improved considerably both from our starters and the BP,  but the question still arises has it improved enough to keep up with the other teams in the ACC. No one has captured my attention for being our closer.  It is still weeks before Brian Walters will be ready and will he have the bloodline of his brother to pick up where Walter left off or is there someone in the wings ready to take the baton and run with it?  All will slowly take form starting one week from today.

The scouts were out in numbers to aim their guns and take notes to starters Gage Ziehl and Rafe Schlesinger. Uncertain if JD has finalized his decision about who the Friday night starter will be, but my choice, for consistency has to be Rafe. He is more accurate with his pitch and keeping runners off the bases. Rafe gives us the better chance of recording a win on Friday night and I would rather have that win under my belt going into Saturday rather than having to win the next two to take the series.Each had scoreless first innings with Gage walking one and 

Rafe giving up a lone single. Gage had a strikeout and Rafe two. It got a bit more active in the next three innings. Gage on the mound, Lucas Costello opened the second with a single and stealing second off the throwing arm of AJ Gotia. After today, I believe AJ finalized his role as the BP catcher. Center field got to receive more of his throws to second than where they were supposed to go. Both Scanlon and Perez made it known that they will hit their mark on a more consistent basis which has troubled them all preseason. With Costello on second, two outs later Daniel Cuvet brings Lucas home on an RBI single.

In the third inning, it was Rafe misfortune to start his half of the inning striking Luca Reyes around the right elbow causing him to leave the game. His being on the ground for a while getting treatment might have mentally caused an interruption in how Rafe approached the next couple of batters trying to be overly cautious. Gaby Gutierrez was brought in to run for Reyes and managed to easily steal second. Lucas Costello was next to bat and he too was hit by the pitch. Runners on 1st and 2nd, Lorenzo Carrier goes deep to right but is caught at the wall. If I was the pitching coach, I might have made a trip to the mound to try to calm him or provide some words of wisdom. Jack Scanlon with Carrier just missing a HR made sure he didn’t with a 3-run shot to right center. This was a wake-up call to Rafe striking out the next two batters.The 4th it was once again for Gage to step under the gun. Blame here had nothing on his part but the defensive play of Daniel Cuvet at third.  Blake Cyr opened the inning with a single bringing Dorian to the plate. The team as a whole while doing batting practice is also spending time practicing the technique of bunting when they are not in the cage. It paid dividends with Dorian executing a perfect SAC down the 3rd baseline. Daniel charged in and proceeded to throw wildly past first enabling Blake to complete the circuit scoring from first.
Both our pitchers stopped alternating runs and each proceeded to have a scoreless 5th. Gage gave up back-to-back singles to Scanlon and Perez but managed to work himself out of the jam. Rafe for his part gave up a lead-off double to Blake followed by the defensive play of the game executed by surprisingly Lorenzo Carrier playing LF. Carrier not known for his defensive prowess makes a leaping running catch at the LF fence that had double written all over it leaving Dorian and all the fans stunned.
The final inning had Brandon Olivera and Nick Robert to finish off today’s scrimmage. Brandon opened the inning walking Jason Torres who eventually scored on an RBI single by Edgardo Villegas with his third hit of the day. As for Nick, it was a quick one, two, three inning. Is it possible one of these two might be looked at as a potential closer while we wait for Brian to enter the picture? 
Today marked the return of Jacoby Long to the lineup. He has missed most of the preseason due to not meeting certain physical standards which apparently he has overcome. Definitely rusty with the bat striking out twice (0-2) but it is nice to see him back in CF. He has a bit of making up to do because, in his absence, six other OF have been making their presence known. Still absent from the roster is Renzo Gonzalez who until lately had been hitting but not throwing the ball. The last couple of weeks he has been absent on the field where he was playing first.  Offensively, the bats for the most part remained silent.  Of the 10 hits, only three with multiple hits: Blake Cyr 2-2(double), Edgardo Villegas 3-3 (double,RBI), and Jack Scanlon 2-4 ((HR,3RBIs). Jack, this preseason has shown remarkable improvement with his hitting along with Lorenzo Carrier and Dorian Gonzalez.
Tomorrow is the day all our players and fans have been waiting for. Alumni Day is filled with fun starting with the Alumni softball game at 2PM and concluding at 6PM with the old warriors clashing against this year’s young warriors for bragging rights. It has been forever since the Alum were triumphant. Could this be the year? Come out and enjoy a day of fun and excitement at the Light.


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