The Miami Hurricane baseball team looks to get back on track this weekend, at home against No.13 UCLA, after getting swept by Mercer in last weekend’s rain shortened two-game set.
“It seemed like everything Mercer did was right,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “They got five infield hits and we left 26 runners stranded.”
However, Morris is not ready to hit the panic button just yet. Although he has never been winless after his opening series before, he maintains hopeful for this year’s squad.
While the ‘Canes did lose both games, they believe that the young relief pitchers, which struggled last weekend, can only get better. Centerfielder Blake Tekotte noted that these growing pains are to be expected from a young staff, and that they are constantly working to get better.
“Our bullpen has to keep developing and learning from experience,” Tekotte said.
Aside from the bullpen issue, UM will look to remain focused late in the game, which was a problem last weekend, when they failed to score a run after the fifth inning in both games.
“We need to work on scoring more runs,” Tekotte said. “Early on we’ve been fine, but after the fifth inning we’ve died. We need to stay in the game and keep hitting. With these aluminum bats, anything can happen.”
A key to Miami’s series this weekend will be dealing with the returning talent of UCLA, highlighted by five returning regulars in a lineup that looks to have improved from last season under Head Coach John Savage.
“The experience should be in their favor,” Morris said. “We are still replacing a lot of talent and we are having growing pains. We won’t know until we get out there and turn the lights on though.”
Miami will look to extend their early hitting into the later innings of the game.
First baseman Yonder Alonso and Tekotte paced the Hurricane attack that scored ten runs in two games last weekend. They will look to stay hot as their talented teammates, most notably second baseman Jemile Weeks and first baseman Dennis Raben, get in a groove.
“We’re still trying to find the right lineup,” Tekotte said. “Early in the year, shuffling will happen. We’re just trying to find nine guys that are hitting.”
Also working in the ‘Canes favor will be the return of ace pitcher Scott Maine, who was suspended from last weekend’s series for violating team policy. Not only does he strengthen the depth of the starting pitching, he also provides a psychological boost, on Friday night, for a young team heading into a tough series.
“It’s a positive thing,” Morris said. “He was, without argument, our ace last year. He’s excited about coming back, and the guys know that he gives us a chance to win every time he is out there.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.