June 5, 2004
THE WOLF AT THE DOOR...
Last night against the Wolfpack of NC State, we felt the key to victory was somehow getting a lead against pitcher Vern Sterry and hanging on for dear life. We were up 4 - 2 after six innings when the skies over Miami opened up and forced a two hour rain delay.
When we returned, Adam McLaurin was on the mound in place of Sterry, and Jeff Fiorentino greeted him with a leadoff double. Derek Hutton dropped down a bunt towards third. The NC State thirdbaseman charged hard and stopped as McLaurin pounced on the ball, wheeled and threw to third. No one was there except Fiorentino. Ich raced home, Hutton slid safely into second. Tim Mascia then walked, putting runners on first and second with no one out.
Rusty Brown stepped in with a first inning RBI under his belt, and the chance to break open the ball game. It was not to be, as Brown popped up and Horst grounded into a double play. The lead was back to three entering the eighth.
Craig Hughes entered in relief of Chris Saxton who had pitched courageously, but the delay necessitated a change. Hughes struggled some in the eighth and I felt he was not as sharp as I would like. The Wolfpack had gotten one more run, and the lead was back to two.
We had chances to add to the lead in the eighth and ninth, but a bullet by Fiorentino was caught and a diving catch at shortstop with runners at second and third robbed pinch hitter Anthony Albano.
Three outs to go.
Allen Knight relieved Hughes and someday he will be stronger for what ensued. But last night was a tough one for the big righthander.
The Wolfpack rallied to score one run and put the tying run on third with one out. Knight struck out Erick Taylor. We needed one more out.
David Hicks ran the count full and drew a walk. Now the winning run was on first base, and DH Mike Jensen entered the box, hitless on the night.
Allen bounced a curveball in the dirt, and Robbie Orton made his second great block of the inning keeping the runner at third. But Knight now had a 1 - 2 count on Jensen, his second two strike, two out count of the inning.
Why is the third strike so much harder to get?? The pressure is equally great for hitter and pitcher. Someone needs to blink.
It was our turn. Jensen ripped a double to left center and the game was tied.
Now it was Dustin Knight against Allen Knight. Dustin won this battle with a single to center putting us into the loser's bracket.
I can't describe the feeling. Sure it's only a game, people are sleeping on cardboard a short drive from here, but at that moment, there is no other perspective.
The Wolf got through the door. KC