It was supposed to be Chris Hernandez's night. When the preseason All-American took the mound Friday before a sold-out crowd in newly renovated Mark Light Stadium, fans were ready for him to nail the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.After all, the sophomore lefty was a perfect 11-0 last season. But Hernandez was uncharacteristically erratic, pitching himself into trouble by walking three and hitting two batters.
The night's real star was relief pitcher Taylor Wulf, a transfer from a community college in Texas. .Fans immediately accepted the newcomer after he struck out the first batter of his UM career with a knee-buckling curveball .They howled at the moon after each strikeout. One can easily see this sort of thing becoming a phenomenon whenever Wulf takes the hill.
Wulf did get into a little trouble after two singles yielded a first and third situation with nobody out. However, he struck out the next two hitters and induced a weak pop up to elicit even more intense wolf howling from the stands. In the end, he struck out three in only two innings while pumping in 23 strikes in 31 pitches
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Performances like this demand that Wulf be dubbed the "Wulfman" or the "Werewulf" and that his entrance music be "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon. Fans should be called the "Wulfpack" and sit in a section called the "Wulf's Den."
The team, won 6-1, giving head coach Jim Morris career victory number 1,200.It is impossible to predict the outcome of a season based on the first game, but the Canes struggled to score runs. The team lost eight players to the pro draft last summer, so Coach Morris had to add 11 true freshmen and three junior college transfers. The fact is, this team probably lacks the offensive punch of last year's team that made the College World Series.
But individual performances from guys like Wulf can rally the crowd and the team to victory. It worked for the Cleveland Indians and Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the movie Major League didn't it?