The Hurricanes baseball team dropped their sixth game in a row on Friday (seventh if you count the exhibition loss to the Marlins). With the loss Miami drops to a dismal 12-17 (6-7 ACC) record on the season. The Hurricanes’ last chance for turning the season around comes in the last two games of this series. They absolutely have to win both games, and if not, the season may as well be over by Monday.
The Hurricanes went down 2-0 early after UNC loaded the bases with smart at-bats and walks. A few timely balls put in play left Miami looking for a response heading to the bottom of the second. The Hurricanes didn’t get anything in the bottom of the second, but in the bottom of the third the Hurricanes put together a response. A single from Hunter Tackett was followed by a ground rule double from Ray Gil to give Miami two men in scoring position with just one out. A wild pitch would bring home Tackett with Gil moving to third on the play. A Freddy Zamora infield single tied the game at 2, and after three Miami had fought back to tie the game.
After the first third of the game both starting pitchers settled in. Jeb Bargfeldt looked like the version of himself Miami had been waiting to see all season, and he had UNC off balance at the plate all night long. By the end of the fourth Jeb had thrown 83 pitches, but over the next few innings Jeb would get seven batters out on just 13 pitches, and in the bottom of the sixth the Hurricanes gave him some run support. Romy Gonzalez reached base on a walk, moved to second on a steal, and then got himself to third on a passed ball. After his incredible baserunning Hunter Tackett knocked a bloop single over UNC’s third baseman to give Miami a 3-2 lead. However, Miami couldn’t get anything else going, and the pitching staff was expected to hold the one run lead.
In the top of the seventh Jeb Bargfeldt was pulled after walking a batter, and senior Cooper Hammond came into the game in relief. Disappointingly Hammond allowed the runner to score and UNC tied the game at 3-3. After Hammond got a strike out for the second out of the inning he was replaced in favor of Jeremy Cook, Cook struggled, but he got the Hurricanes out of the inning. In the top of the eighth Miami worked out of a bases loaded jam. Romy Gonzalez made an extremely smart play at third base, he didn’t try to force a double play, but got the force out at home to prevent the run from scoring. After that a sharply hit but cleanly fielded groundout to Ray Gil ended the inning.
Then, at the start of the bottom of the eighth, in the middle of Romy Gonzalez’s at-bat, the lights went out at Mark Light Field...
Needless to say that was more than a little bizarre, and the game was delayed for nearly 20 minutes as the technical issue was solved. After the lights came back on the game progressed quickly, and after no one could score in the next three half innings we got some free baseball at The Light.
In the top of the eleventh a triple followed by a perfectly executed suicide squeeze gave UNC a 4-3 lead, but the Hurricanes fought back in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Burns led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and a sac-bunt pushed him to second. A Gabe Rivera single would score Burns. On the play Burns would have been out by about three strides after he blew through a stop sign at third base, but the ‘Canes got lucky and the catcher dropped the ball, tying the game at 4-4. Miami couldn’t get the winning run to score though, and it was off to the top of the twelfth.
This inning would see a total collapse for the Hurricanes. Five hits and an error in the inning plated four runs for the Tar Heels. Some of it was unlucky bounces, but Michael Mediavilla also struggled in the inning. It’s hard to blame Mediavilla for the loss though, he gave the ‘Canes a few innings of solid work, and they couldn’t drive in the winning run.
In the bottom of the inning the Hurricanes didn’t threaten, and this absolutely bizarre game finally came to an end.
Every single Hurricanes batter struck out at least once tonight, and if there’s an issue I would point to as why Miami struggles so much offensively, it would probably be the strikeout issue. The Hurricanes, after dropping what was already a must win game today, find themselves needing two wins in the next two games to keep their season alive.
Winning Pitcher: Josh Hiatt (1-1, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K)
Losing Pitcher: Michael Mediavilla (0-3, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 3 K)
Date & Time: Saturday, April 7, 7:00 PM
Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (4-3, 3.12 ERA)
UNC Starter: Austin Bergner (4-1, 3.58 ERA)
Television: ACC Network Extra
Radio: 790 The Ticket