The Miami Hurricanes’ baseball squad will travel to Chapel Hill this weekend for a three-game series with the North Carolina Tar Heels, who are the No. 1 ranked team in the country for the past three weeks.
However, Miami does not lack confidence heading in and that could be crucial to the series, which will mark the beginning of Atlantic Coast Conference play for the ‘Canes.
The ‘Canes look to carry their recent hot streak into this weekend’s series, led by suddenly-dominant third baseman Mark Sobolewski.
“It’s good to see that the hard work we do in practice is carrying over into games,” Sobolewski said. “But we have to show up to play every night or the confidence doesn’t matter.”
The ‘Canes swept Fordham last weekend, and had won five in a row before Tuesday night’s defeat at the hands of St. Bonaventure. This loss underscored some of the team’s problems so far this season, namely a lack of intensity at different points during the game. In particular, the offense has shown an inability to score runs late in games or hit with runners in scoring position, leaving what seems to be a small village on the base paths so far this season. Once ACC play opens up, this type of play will have to stop, and this is not lost on the players.
“We started off the season slow and had a hot streak going on but kind of took a step back [against St. Bonaventure],”said Sobolewski. “The ACC is going to be tough. If we play our game we will be fine, but it will definitely be a challenge.”
Sobolewski has come on very strong as of late, adding to another big weekend with a four-hit, three-double performance in the loss. Along with the dangerous bats of first baseman Yonder Alonso, second baseman Jemile Weeks and right fielder Dennis Raben, Sobolewski’s surge has positioned the ‘Canes to compete against a Tar Heel team that reached the championship series of the College World Series last year and returns with an almost identical starting lineup.
“It will be interesting to see how they play ranked number one,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “They are at home. It will be interesting to see how we handle a challenge on the road against a real good North Carolina team.”
In a series that matches two fairly even teams, North Carolina seems to have the advantage in one key category.
“They are a very experienced team,” Morris said. “They have a lot of starters back from a very good team, and that is their strength.”
While North Carolina’s experience is a formidable adversary, it is important to keep in mind that Miami, while it has admittedly struggled more than anticipated early on, is a team of great talent as well.
“Obviously they are playing well. They’re a very good team this year and were a very good team last year,” Sobolewski said. “We’re Miami and we don’t want to take a backseat to anyone. We understand that they’re playing very well and that we need to get better. We’re still Miami and we’ll be ready to play.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.