Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
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With the start of the 2024 season less than a month away, 16 Feb, the boys of spring returned to the baseball diamond “unofficially” to start their preparation after a 2-month hiatus. Officially preseason doesn’t start until next Friday, but the players for today and tomorrow decided to get an early start without “adult” supervision. For the hitters, they picked up where they left off in November taking advantage of a struggling pitching staff collecting 10 runs on 14 hits for 5 1/2 innings of play. Four of the 14 hits left the park in commendable fashion. Fielding for the most part was passable except for our catchers whose throws to second were way wide of the mark. Both Lopez and Scanlon are going to have to work on their throws or word will quickly spread that they are an easy mark to steal on. The offense as it looks right now is going to have to work overtime once again trying to maintain the runs surrendered by questionable pitching. We have one month to work out the kinks and hopefully be ready come opening day. Right now I can’t give you certainty who our starting rotation will be. I know who they want but from what I have seen to date, none are ready to take command on the mound.

Nine pitchers threw today mostly for one inning. Gage Ziehl, Rafe Schlesinger, and Jordan Vargas were the exceptions throwing two. Neither Rafe nor Gage, scheduled for weekend rotation, didn’t exactly send warm fuzzies to my heart. Gage gave up a HR in the 1st to Blake Cyr and single and a double in the second followed by a SF in the second. As for Rafe after walking his initial batter gave up three consecutive singles scoring two runs. The second inning settled down with no runs on one hit. Was their first time throwing since November but definitely need to get into high gear if they expect to be ready come opening weekend. Fortunately, we have a tuneup weekend with NJIT which should be confident builders for both our pitchers and our hitters. 1 March should be our first real test coming against Florida which we play on our home turf.

Jordan Vargas was last to pitch for two and didn’t receive much help from Carlos Perez with a pair of errors resulting in the only run claimed coming in the third. Did redeem himself by striking out Antonio Jimenez to end the 3rd with bases loaded. However, Antonio was the 5th batter and the first out so realistically who knows how much damage might have pursued (5 batters/inning)

JT Caruso got off to a shaky start facing off against Jacoby Long in the 3rd who tagged into one of the longest shots of the day. Following Long’s HR, walked Gaby, with the good fortunes of Renzo Gonzalez hitting into a 4-6-3 DP. The reprieve was short-lived walking the next two ending his day with the 5th batter.

Julian Hernandez following in the footsteps of his predecessors did not exactly fare well on the mound opening walking Lucas Costello and reaching his demise with a two-shot bomb from Dorian Gonzalez.

The one pitcher that actually looked good was freshman Chris Diaz who had the only 3up/3out inning. Chris Scinta throwing opposite Chris in the 5th, met the same fate as three of his compatriots giving up a two-run shot to Lorenzo Carrier for the 4th HR given up by our pitching staff today. Slaide Naturman finished off the day walking his 5th batter leaving runners on the corners with already 3 outs already having been recorded. 

As earlier mentioned, our bats picked up without a misstep where they left off in November. Most notable today was the hitting of Dorian Gonzalez who went 4-4 including a 2-run homer in the 4th. HRs were shared by Blake Cyr, Jacoby Long, and Lorenzo Carrier who continue his red-hot hitting streak from the fall. The only other extra-base hit came from Renzo Gonzalez who doubled in the second.

Today and tomorrow are tune-up sessions for the start of the actual preseason starting next week when the coaches will be doing their evaluation of the players. From what I saw hitting was doing fine picking up where they left off, but the pitching was not so fine. Did get to see the newest member of our team JD Urso coming to us from Tampa and supposed to be the second coming. That is according to his press releases but I am holding back any comment as of this time. 0-3 today with the bat striking out once and nothing really special playing short which is where he is supposed to shine. With JD joining the team that moves Blake and Dorian fighting for second. Dorian has been revitalized and looks like he did his freshman year and Blake continues to be a hitting machine. The difference between the two is Dorian is the better fielder. I Would hate to see either out of the lineup but one unfortunately will be. That is unless Urso doesn’t live up to expectations. Noted that Renzo playing first was not throwing the ball. He was hitting and fielding but might have issues with his arm and hopefully, this is only precautionary. Renzo last year played right field in addition to first when Kayfus was unavailable.

Tomorrow is the second and last of the “unofficial” scrimmage before kickoff next Friday. Same time as today: 3PM first pitch.


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