The schedule is not getting any easier for the fourth-ranked Hurricane baseball team.
Miami won two out of three games from Florida State at Mark Light Field, winning the season series for the first time in three years. The Hurricanes’ four-game win streak against the Seminoles was snapped Sunday when Florida State beat Miami 10-3. Overall, the Hurricanes took four out of six games from Florida State and got Head Coach Jim Morris his 500th victory with the ‘Canes Saturday. The Hurricanes are 28-8 on the season.
“Florida State is a good team and we just came out and played hard,” catcher Erick San Pedro said. “If you don’t play well against good teams, you will lose.”
This weekend, another ACC school comes to Mark Light Field in the form of the Virginia Cavaliers.
Virginia, who is not traditionally a baseball powerhouse, is having a great season and is ranked in the top 15. The Cavaliers are currently riding a school record 13-game winning streak and sit with a 33-7 record on the season. The streak includes a sweep of Clemson in Virginia and a sweep of Maryland on the road.
Virginia’s success is a surprise to many people, including the Hurricanes, who never thought UVA would be having this good of a season.
“I didn’t realize Virginia was going to be ranked when I scheduled them,” Morris said. “I like playing good teams, but I had no idea Virginia was going to be doing this well. They have a new coach and they keep moving up the rankings.”
While the victories against Florida State were important, the Hurricanes still have a lot of baseball left to play. After Virginia, the Hurricanes still have to face Long Beach State, North Carolina, and Coastal Carolina. All of those teams are ranked or receiving votes to be ranked.
“I think that playing the best teams will prepare us for the post season and will help us get to Omaha and do well there,” Morris said.
Along with the tough schedule, the ‘Canes will have to battle injuries against Virginia. Paco Figueroa, the team’s starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter, is now going to be out six weeks with a hand injury. It was originally only supposed to be four weeks. In addition, shortstop Ryan Braun is still listed as day-to-day with rib injuries and is doubtful to play this series. These injuries are forcing the Hurricanes to make adjustments. Roger Tomas will start at shortstop if Braun cannot play, while Brian Barton will move into centerfield, with Richard Giannotti playing right field.
“We are lucky because Roger Tomas has done a tremendous job at shortstop,” Morris said. “He has fielded well and he has done a good job at the plate. Richard Giannotti has done well and has proven that he can produce for us in the outfield.”
In addition to those injuries, Dan Touchet is likely going to miss his second straight series to rest his surgically repaired arm. J.D. Cockroft will start on Friday, Cesar Carrillo on Saturday, and Brandon Camardese on Sunday. The Hurricanes are looking for consistency in their starting rotation.
“Starting pitching is a concern because we aren’t consistent,” Morris said. “We are looking for J.D. to continue to pitch well. He has shown he can do it and we need him to pitch well every time out.”
The Hurricanes’ bullpen has been fantastic all season, led by closer George Huguet, who has still yet to give up an earned run all season.
“Huguet’s numbers speak for themselves,” Morris said. “He has to be one of the best closers ever at Miami.”
Miami will get tested again this weekend by a good Virginia team. The Hurricanes are 6-3 in the month of April, winning two out of three games from Georgia Tech and four out of six from Florida State.
“Our goals are two out of three from good teams and sweep the teams we are supposed to sweep,” San Pedro said. “We are playing at home from here on out so that helps us.”
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org