The Miami Hurricanes’ baseball team will host the Florida State Seminoles this weekend in what is, annually, the biggest series on their schedules.
The Seminoles, ranked No. 1 or 2 depending upon which poll one looks at, arrive with arguably their strongest team of the past decade, albeit without the type of superstar who has come to typify their program in the past.
“They’re having a great year and they’re a very solid club,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “Hopefully we’ll be ready. It has been a big series for a long time, no matter who’s ranked lower or higher, but this might be their best team in the past fifteen years. They’re a veteran club and they win.”
Florida State leads the ACC in team batting average and has been able to score the most runs in conference, without a true power bat in the lineup, instead producing runs very efficiently.
“Florida State can hit,” Morris said. “They’re hitting about .365 as a team and we don’t have an individual player hitting that high. They’re very solid, and we’ll have to have all three aspects to win: pitching, defense and timely defense.”
While Florida State has won by employing small-ball this season, the ‘Canes have relied upon the very stout midsection in their order to drive in runs with extra base hits and homeruns. Sophomore sluggers Yonder Alonso and Dennis Raben have been mashing as of late, as both have now climbed into the double digits in the homerun category, with 11 and 10 respectively.
The ‘Canes clicked on all cylinders last weekend against Virginia Tech, putting up 20 runs, on Friday and Sunday combined, and winning a pitcher’s duel on Saturday night. It will take that kind of all around performance again this weekend in order to beat the Seminoles.
“We’re going to have to do the small things right,” Raben said. “We are going to have to play good bunt defense, make good pitches, turn double plays when we can and eliminate the big innings because they are going to be trying to put pressure on us.”
The ferocity of this rivalry, over the years, has always leveled the playing field. It was Miami who went to Tallahassee last year, as a major underdog, and emerged with the series win. The Seminoles have not taken a series from the ‘Canes since 2003.
Last weekend’s sweep has the ‘Canes in prime position to make a run up the ACC and National standings with a strong finish to the regular season. This weekend represents the beginning of the stretch that could play a large role in determining the postseason seeding of this Hurricane team.
“We feel good,” Raben said. “We are coming off a good conference sweep. We have a lot of confidence, and the excitement is up. Everyone is pumped up for this weekend, and we’ll get right back in the standings.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org