It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
The University of Miami baseball team (38-22) began the season hot, reaching a ranking as high as No. 2 in the country, but struggled down the stretch and failed to reach the College World Series for only the fifth time under head coach Jim Morris.
“In the first half of the season we got a lot of breaks,” said Morris, who finished his 16th year at UM. “We got hits when we needed them. Whatever it meant to win games. In the second half we didn’t get those same hits. We didn’t come through in clutch situations.”
Despite an early exit, the Canes reached the postseason for a 37th consecutive season to extend their NCAA record.
“A lot of people asked us why we weren’t excited when we found out we made the tournament,” junior closer Kyle Bellamy said. “That’s something that’s a given here.”
Morris and players believed that a lack of team chemistry derailed them as they lost twice to No. 8 UF in the Gainesville, Fla. Regional.
There were 15 newcomers to the 2009 squad, and according to Morris, there was not a strong cohesive bond amongst teammates.
“We didn’t have as good of team chemistry as I would’ve liked, and it definitely affected our team throughout the year,” he said. “It emphasized to me that everybody’s got to be together, everybody’s got to be on the same page.”
With a drive towards a fifth national championship put to a halt, three blossoming stars from the team were drafted during the fifth round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Junior first baseman Jason Hagerty was the first Cane selected as the 144th pick overall by the San Diego Padres. He was named team MVP because of his knack for hitting in the clutch. “Hags” knocked two walk-off home runs and belted three bombs in total at the regional as he was named to the All-Tournament team.
The 6’3”, 220-pounder led the club in RBI (60) and slugging percentage (.630), while finishing second in home runs (14).
Bellamy, taken by the Chicago White Sox, earned three first-team All-America honors as he compiled an ACC-leading 16 saves. He recorded 63 strikeouts in 46.1 innings of work and posted a 0.97 ERA.
Returning next season are two top-notch players. Left-hander Chris Hernandez and catcher Yasmani Grandal both earned second team All-ACC honors. Hernandez led the team in wins (7) as the Friday night starter. Grandal blasted a team-high 16 home runs.
“It’s always disappointing when you don’t get to Omaha,” Grandal said. “You have a whole year ahead of you to correct your mistakes and actually be a little bit better. It’s a young team.”