Hurricanes baseball prepares for weekend series against defending champion Virginia

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Sophomore right-hander Jesse Lepore (55) throws a pitch during the men’s baseball 4-3 loss to FAU Wednesday night at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The Canes are preparing for their series against Virginia this upcoming weekend. Giancarlo Falconi // Staff Photographer

Sophomore right-hander Jesse Lepore (55) throws a pitch during the men’s baseball 4-3 loss to FAU Wednesday night at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The Canes are preparing for their series against Virginia this upcoming weekend. Giancarlo Falconi // Staff Photographer

Miami no longer has a 12-game winning streak to defend, but it will host defending champion Virginia in a three-game series at Mark Light Field over the weekend. Miami maintained its No. 1 national ranking after going 2-1 last weekend against Duke, and the Canes will look to build another lengthy winning streak against the reigning champs.

The Canes (29-6, 13-3) will have to continue to be great at manufacturing runs on Friday night, as Connor Jones of Virginia will be tough to hit. In his last start against North Carolina last Friday, Jones pitched six innings while only giving up one earned run. The consensus top-10 pitching prospect also improved to 7-1 on the year with the win over the Tar Heels.

Miami is no stranger to elite pitching, having already faced six of Baseball America’s top 30 draft-eligible college pitchers. The Canes have excelled at playing small ball throughout the regular season and will need to rely on sacrifice hits and plate discipline in order to get the best of Jones in the matchup on Friday.

At the plate, the Cavaliers, much like the Canes, rely on their catcher to provide the power in the lineup. Matt Thaiss anchors Virginia’s lineup and is feared by most opposing pitchers, exemplified by last Sunday’s game against North Carolina when he drew three walks. He also had two hits and drove in three runs during that contest, so the Canes’ pitching staff will want to pitch around him when possible and take their chances with the other batters in the lineup.

Although Virginia (24-16, 9-9) may not be having one of its best years, the Cavs are still the defending champions and are loaded with talent. If the Canes play like they have been for the last month, they should be able to win – if not sweep – the series and continue their march toward the College World Series. In order to be champions, you have to beat the champions, and that is exactly what the Canes will look to achieve in this weekend’s series.

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