Antweil: The tough stretch is over

Chris Hernandez walks off the field after getting hit by a  linedrive to te face at Friday's game.  Hernandez was rushed to hospital.  A few stiches were required but he is playing in the next game.  STEVEN STUTS // HURRICANE STAFF

Chris Hernandez walks off the field after getting hit by a linedrive to te face at Friday's game. Hernandez was rushed to hospital. A few stiches were required but he is playing in the next game. STEVEN STUTS // HURRICANE STAFF

The University of Miami baseball team finally ended a treacherous month-and-a-half stretch during which they played six series against top-notch ACC competition. Five of the six weekend series were against teams ranked in the top 25.

The Canes finished the brutal 18 game ACC stretch 8-10. They won two of three against No. 7 Virginia in Charlottesville, then dropped two of three at home to No. 3 Georgia Tech. They beat archrival No. 23 FSU twice, losing once, before falling in a series to No. 20 Clemson. Finally, Miami was swept by No. 4 North Carolina and ended the stretch by beating Virginia Tech two of three.

The good news is the Canes have a favorable schedule the rest of the season. They have an away series at Boston College, a home series against Bethune Cookman and an away series against Wake Forest.

They do not play any more teams in the Coastal Division, which is far superior to the Atlantic Division in the ACC.

Boston College is having a surprisingly good season, as they are battling Clemson and Florida State for Atlantic Division supremacy. Bethune Cookman is a non-conference series and Wake Forest is struggling this year.

We learned a few things during this arduous six week span.

The Bad:

  • Good pitching beats good hitting. The Canes were 1-4 in Friday night games. The Canes looked befuddled against top ACC pitching. Their bats appeared stagnant and they could not come up with the timely hits. ACC aces Danny Hultzen (Virginia), Derek McGuire (Georgia Tech), Sean Gilmartin (FSU), Chris Dwyer (Clemson), Alex White (UNC) and Justin Wright (VT) all dominated the Hurricane bats.
  • Base-running blunders were the norm, instead of the exception. On numerous occasions Miami was picked off and caught napping on the bases. They would stretch routine singles into doubles and get thrown out.
  • The hitting has not been as hot as it previously was. The hits usually come in bunches.

The Good:

  • Sophomore starter Chris Hernandez looks like he did last year. He regained his form and found his command. He has won three of his last four starts and pitched well in a losing effort to UNC. His cutter is jamming right-handed hitters.
  • Junior reliever Taylor Wulf is nursing a sore right arm and has been out of the mix. There were many questions about the bridge to standout closer Kyle Bellamy but freshmen Sam Robinson and Daniel Miranda have been the answer, as they have shown they can perform in pressure situations in the seventh and eighth innings.
  • Defensively, Miami has looked a lot better. Miami led the conference in errors before this stretch. Now they are in the middle of the pack. Junior Chris Herrmann looks more comfortable in left field and Harold Martinez has proven he is a quality third baseman.

In summary, pursuing a fifth national championship is definitely possible. This team has the tools to do it, no matter how young it may be. There is no better coach in the country at maximizing talent like the Hurricanes’ Jim Morris. The Canes are going to need to stick to their small ball formula and get timely hitting, if they want a chance to play in Omaha.

April 26, 2009


Justin Antweil

Senior Sports Writer

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