Hot Hurricanes open conference play at home

Atlantic Coast Conference play begins Friday night when Virginia Tech (7-2) comes to Mark Light Field for a three game series against Miami.

UM Head Coach Jim Morris believes his team will benefit from playing twice as many games as Virginia Tech thus far.

“I always think it is an advantage the more you play,” Morris said. “We get better as the season goes.”

Miami has enjoyed playing well of late. One of the catalysts has been third baseman Danny Valencia, who drove in three runs last weekend against Indiana, including a game-tying two home run in the fourth inning on Sunday.

“I think I am getting there,” Valencia said. “I feel a lot comfortable and I am seeing the ball a lot better.”

The Hurricanes continued their streak of solid starting pitching in the Indiana series. Miami starters allowed two earned runs in 21 innings. Manny Miguelez shined with a complete game, one-hit performance.

Collegiate Baseball named Miguelez one of the National Players of the Week.

“To get recognized nationally by anybody is great,” Miguelez said. “When it comes from such a great organization, it makes it just that much better.”

The tandem of Carlos Gutierrez and Miguelez are baffling hitters, combining for an 8-2 record and an earned run average under 2.00.

“Watching Carlos gives me confidence,” Miguelez said. “If he can do that then I know I can do it.”

Virginia Tech is led this season by Bryan Thomas. In 10 games, Thomas is batting .422 with three home runs and 22 RBI.

The table setter for the Hokies is Nate Parks, who leads the team with a .450 batting average. Parks has been successful stealing bases in 14 of 17 attempts.

David Cross is the ace of the Hokie pitching staff, with a record of 1-1 and a 2.65 ERA. Cross has struggled with his command at times, walking 12 batters in 17 innings.

“[Virginia Tech Head Coach Chuck Hartman] has been coaching a long time,” Morris said. “I know his guys will be ready to play.”

While it might too early for the Hurricanes to think about the ACC Tournament, Morris said it is worth mentioning that only the top eight teams will get in this year.

“We have been talking about the importance of stepping it up for seeding,” Morris said. “This is the first year ever that the ACC had to limit the number of teams entering the ACC tournament.”

Valencia said the veterans of the team are bonding with the younger players and its confidence continues to grow with every victory.

“We are starting to gel as a team,” Valencia said. “Some of the younger guys are realizing that they have bigger roles then what they initially thought they would have.”

Denis Brown can be contacted at d.brown@umsis.umiami.edu.

March 10, 2006


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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