Starting pitching Advantage: Bethune-Cookman
Despite Preseason All-American Chris Hernandez’s return to form over his past couple of starts, including a seven-inning outing in which he allowed just one run in a 5-1 victory over Boston College, Miami’s other two starters, David Gutierrez and Iden Nazario, have been struggling. Gutierrez’s earned-run average is at 5.15, while Nazario’s is a whopping 6.22. For Bethune-Cookman, Ali Simpson (7-2) has a minute 2.40 ERA and hasn’t given up a home run in 60 innings this season. Eric Thomas, a relative of UM alum Lamar Thomas, will take the mound on Saturday and has a 6-4 record and a 4.65 ERA.
Bullpen Advantage: Miami
Setup man Taylor Wulf will have surgery sometime next week and is done for the season after being out for about a month. That means former midweek starters Daniel Miranda and Jason Santana must step up. The thin bullpen needs to get Preseason All-American closer Kyle Bellamy, who leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 14 saves and has a 1.22 ERA, on the mound. The Wildcats have only seven saves as a team and most of their relievers have an ERA at or around 4.50.
Batting Advantage: Even
Chris Herrmann is on an eight-game hitting streak and had seven hits, two homers and five RBI against the Eagles last weekend. The junior college transfer attributes his success to a “few adjustments I made to my swing…now I’m using more of my legs.” Four Hurricanes are batting over .300, while Bethune-Cookman has nine different players consistent at the plate, including C.J. Lauriello with his .401 batting average. However, Miami can score quick runs with 53 total homers compared to the Wildcats’ 35. It’ll be interesting to see if UM can recover from the outstanding ACC pitching its faced over the past month.
Intangibles Advantage: Miami
It’s the last home weekend series of the regular season for the Hurricanes (31-16). As of now, college baseball experts predict that the Canes will play their regional in Gainesville against the host Gators. Bethune-Cookman (26-24) lost 12-5 on Wednesday night in a rain/lightning-shortened game in Jacksonville. According to first baseman Jason Hagerty, “every year they’re [B-C] scrappy and try to find a way to win good games. We definitely can’t take them lightly. We need to win out in order to host regionals.”