Baseball

Gators oust Canes from NCAA Tournament

The University of Miami’s pursuit of a fifth national championship came to a halt in Gainesville, Fla. for the second time in as many years.

Miami (43-20) was swept by the rival University of Florida Gators in the Super Regional and was not able to reach the College World Series, the team’s ultimate goal every year.

“It was a good season,” 17th-year head coach Jim Morris said. “Ninety-five percent of the teams in America would like to have it, but at Miami there’s a high standard. It was an outstanding season, but a great season is when you win it all.”

The Canes committed nine errors in the two games of the Super Regional, which ultimately haunted them. They committed a season-high seven errors in the final game.

In 2009 Miami lost to Florida twice in the Gainesville Regional.

“Anytime we don’t make it to Omaha we view the season as a failure,” junior pitcher Chris Hernandez said. “A lot of guys had good seasons individually, but as a team we fell short of our goal.”

The Hurricanes had trouble winning series against top-notch competition. Miami lost to Florida, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Virginia. It also lost two of three games in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

All five of those teams made the NCAA Tournament.

“We just need to be more consistent,” sophomore pitcher Sam Robinson said. “We have all the tools. They just need to come all together at once.”

Despite the bitter end to the season, there were some great individual accomplishments.

Junior catcher Yasmani Grandal had one of the most productive seasons in Miami baseball history.

He was named ACC Player of the Year and was selected 12th overall in the 2010 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.

Grandal will join former Hurricane first-round pick Yonder Alonso in the Reds organization. The two played with each other in 2008.

“It’s disappointing we could not go back to Omaha like we did my freshman year, but I’m excited about my future,” said Grandal, who hit .401, with 15 home runs and 60 RBI. “All the hard work has paid off and I’m excited to see what my future has in store for me.”

Grandal’s battery mate, Hernandez, had a stellar campaign that earned him a selection by the Boston Red Sox in the seventh round.

Hernandez earned First Team All-ACC Honors while tabulating a 10-3 record with a 2.64 ERA. He struck out 110 batters and walked just 35. Hernandez went 2-0 in three postseason appearances, tossing 16.1 innings and allowing only one earned run.

But Miami was decimated by injuries throughout the year.

Redshirt junior Eric Erickson, who was 23-6 in his Hurricane career, missed the final two months of the season due to left elbow soreness. He had Tommy John surgery two years ago and missed the entire 2009 season.

“A lot of things have to go right to get to Omaha,” Morris said. “He and Chris [Hernandez], they were like having 1A and 1B. We felt they could beat anybody.”

Sophomore third baseman Harold Martinez, who led the team with 21 home runs and 69 RBI, did not play the final game against Florida in which the Canes were eliminated 4-3 in extra innings.

Martinez started the first 122 games of his Hurricane career, but was sidelined in the final game with a left leg infection after fouling off numerous balls on his shin the last few weeks of the season.

This was the first team in Hurricane history to record at least 100 homers, 100 stolen bases and 20 triples. It was a young squad that started four freshmen, so much of the core returns next year.

“We were a young team, but we had a lot of fight in us and great chemistry,” Hernandez said. “I think with the next couple of teams they’ve got coming in they’ll be back in Omaha and definitely be a contender.”

Listen to every Miami Hurricanes baseball game whether it be at home, on the road or during the postseason on the student radio station at the University of Miami, WVUM 90.5 FM.

Justin Antweil may be contacted at jantweil@themiamihurricane.com.


July 23, 2010

Reporters

Justin Antweil

Senior Sports Writer


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