The highly anticipated 2007 baseball season opener did not turn out the way many expected it to end.
The Mercer Bears rallied to win both games in the season-opening series, with the final game canceled because of inclement weather.
The series sweep marked the first time since 1967 that the Hurricanes lost a season-opening series at home.
“First of all, we didn’t play very well,” Head Coach Jim Morris said, “but it’s the worst-managed job that I’ve seen of a team that is supposed to be good.”
The Hurricanes’ inability to produce runners in scoring position, prevent defensive lapses and overcome struggles in the bullpen were the main culprits in the two losses.
One of the biggest question marks the Hurricanes had going into the season was the bullpen, who failed to preserve leads in both games.
Mercer rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the season opener to win 6-5.
After Richard O’Brien’s two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning, Miami appeared to be in control with a 5-1 lead.
But, the Bears’ Josh Thompson, who was 5-for-9 in the series, unloaded against freshman Alex Koronis in the sixth inning for a solo homerun.
He would add an RBI single in the seventh to cap a two-run rally to make it 5-4.
The Bears pushed across two runs in the top of the ninth inning, spoiling the debut of junior college transfer Enrique Garcia, who blew his first save.
Mercer first baseman Mike Armstrong would drive in the decisive run, a two-out single in which shortstop Roger Tomas had trouble moving to his left on a groundball up the middle.
The Hurricanes threatened in the bottom ninth, sending up pinch-hitter Ryan Jackson with runners at second and third and two out. Jackson laced a full-count pitch directly to leftfield to end the game.
Lefthander Manny Miguelez pitched well to begin the season, but was unable to go deep enough into the ballgame. Miguelez went five innings and allowed an earned run.
Miami first baseman Yonder Alonso had an impressive start to the season, going 4-for-6 in the series and hitting his first homerun of the season, a towering blast to straight-away centerfield in the opener.
But, Miami failed to protect Alonso in the lineup as he walked five times in the series.
Cleanup hitter Dennis Raben went 1 for 9 in the series, leaving nine men on base.
On Saturday, Danny Gil was cruising with a no-hitter well into the fourth inning and protected a 2-0 lead.
The Bears shortstop Billy Shaughnessy broke the no-hit bid on a two-run blast to tie the game, and Gil would only record two more outs.
With Miami leading 5-4 in the seventh, Mercer mounted another comeback, scoring two runs thanks to the Hurricanes spotty defense.
Hurricanes reliever David Gutierrez dropped a pop-up in front of home plate that allowed the go-ahead run giving Mercer the lead 6-5.
Armstrong’s two-run homerun in the ninth inning capped the 8-5 victory.
The Hurricanes hit five batters, threw three wild pitches, had two passed balls and committed four errors in two games; all mistakes that must be fixed.
“I did a very poor job of managing this club and of managing the game today,” Morris said following Saturday’s loss.
Alex Kushel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.