Some Friday night blues turned into some Mark Light Magic vs. Penn State. In the end, the Miami Hurricanes won their first series of the season and the preseason ranked Hurricanes will try to remain in the top 25. This is the Canes baseball recap show Penn State edition.
Penn State 9 Miami 5
Friday was a rough way to open the series and the season. “Disappointing start, no doubt,” the Miami Hurricanes skipper Gino DiMare said. When the Nittany Lions jumped ahead early with four runs in the second, Manny Diaz somehow got revenge. Penn State was officially in the hit parade pounding out 16 of them.
And this is the way D1 baseball is. You have to find ways to chase their ace and the Hurricanes simply couldn’t. Penn State starter Travis Luensmann (1-0) punched out four batters and only allowed two hits across five innings. On the flipside, Miami’s Friday night starter Gage Ziehl only lasted two innings and gave up nine hits.
You do not have much of a chance on ace night when the opponent’s batting average sits at .600 vs. your number one. This was the biggest question mark from the series in my opinion, will Ziehl bounce back? Disappointing starts happen. But giving up that many hits when you are pegged to be the guy is alarming.
Miami 10 Penn State 2
Saturday was much better. The tone was set by sophomore right-handed starter Karson Ligon. Ligon surrendered only one run and scattered two hits over the course of 6 2/3 innings. “We went out there, got quick outs and got our hitters back in the dugout to hit,” Ligon said.
And hit they did. Miami pounded four home runs including a ball by Junior outfielder Zach Levenson which still hasn’t landed yet. Levenson blasted two bombs including a 460-foot solo shot in the fifth that cleared the score board by about 50 feet.
The Hurricanes were also disciplined at the plate. Not only did they net themselves 9 hits at the plate, they walked nine times. This was the hitting we expected at the beginning of the season.
Miami 3 Penn State 2
Sunday was for walk-offs. The Hurricanes unleashed some Mark Light magic when 2022 MVP CJ Kayfus launched a homerun over the right field wall. Pandemonium ensued and the Hurricanes won their first series of the year. It came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Kayfus up to that point wasn’t having a particular good series at the plate. He ended up going 2-11 but one of those hits was as memorable as it gets. A first pitch change-up hit the Ponce Parking Garage and sent the crowd bananas and not the Savannah kind.
Miami went on to outhit Penn State in back to back days as the Hurricanes notched nine knocks and the pitching was very good. Alejandro Rosario scattered four hits and struck out six and Anderew Walters struck out five out of the six batters he faced. The Miami closer was awarded the win.
It was good to see the bats come alive after a difficult opening night. Plus when you consider both Yohandy Morales and CJ Kayfus were essentially bottled up all series, the Hurricanes have a balanced lineup. They have some pop too.
Morales impressed me with his ability to go the other way with the ball. He beat the shift a couple times and especially when the pitcher was up on him in the count. Kayfus didn’t get a bunch of hits this series mind you, but he led all Hurricanes with walks. His free pass parade and a .400 OBP is something he can build off of.
Zach Levenson is a beast. He leads the Hurricanes in home runs and the balls were destroyed. Levenson had over 1300 feet of majestic round trippers. The Hurricanes right fielder is also batting .500 after the opening series with a clean 5-10 clip. There is always that hitter who starts unconscious. Levenson is that guy.
The Hurricanes found a way to get Blake Cyr inserted and the kid can flat out hit. The Freshman second baseman got his first two hits as a Hurricane and we heard leading up to the series he was going to get a chance. Cyr is the second leading hitter after the opening weekend batting .400.
The pitching stock report is going to go up for Ligon and Pipo. Both kept opposing batters off balanced and under .200. Ziehl did not. Again, bad starts happen to the best of us, but Ziehl needs a bounce back after giving up nine hits and holding a current 22.50 ERA.
Ultimately the defense was solid only giving up a couple errors the whole series. A couple of baserunning blunders can get cleaned up. But good series win for the Hurricanes and that is the goal every weekend. There is too much parity in college baseball these days to think otherwise.
Miami Hurricane Zach Levenson – Credit Miami Athletics
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