The last time the University of Miami Men’s baseball team lost five out of six games in a season series to the Florida State Seminoles was in 1991. The last time the team was at .500 this late in the season was in 1966.
That is exactly how it has played out this season for the defending national champions.
Following a 6-4 and 9-3 defeat on Friday and Saturday night, the Hurricanes capped off the series with a 17-11 loss at the hands of the Seminoles.
“We just have been finding too many ways to lose baseball games,” said Hurricanes head coach Jim Morris. “It just hasn’t been our year.”
On the verge of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time under Jim Morris, the ‘Canes are looking towards the strength of their remaining schedule to help them vault back into the playoff picture.
“There is nothing to say that the Miami team can’t have a big turnaround,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “That is a great baseball team. The fact that they were down 13-4 and cut our lead to three shows that they have a lot of fight in them.”
“The fact that we have a good schedule upcoming is certainly to our benefit,” said Morris. “The fact that we dropped three in a row this weekend doesn’t help our cause.”
For the Hurricanes, it was a classic case of too little to late. In every inning that UM mounted any kind of offensive attack, the Seminoles immediately counteracted it in the following inning. The huge blow came in the fifth when the Seminoles erupted for seven runs including a Steven Drew grand slam, the second of the game by Seminole hitters.
Despite the Hurricanes offensive explosion for 11 runs and 20 hits, it was defense and pitching that let down the ‘Canes in this game. The squad committed four errors, which could and probably should have been six or seven if it were not for a generous official scorer.
On a brighter note for the Hurricanes, some of their younger players performed well at the plate including freshman shortstop Paco Figueroa’s first home run as a Miami Hurricane.
“Our younger players have certainly made a lot of progress,” said Morris. “We aren’t getting any RBI’s out of our veteran players. You look at FSU and the number seven guy in their line up has 32 RBI’s, which is more than our top guy.”
One veteran player who did step it up in Sunday’s game was second baseman Javy Rodriguez. Rodriguez went 4-for-5 with two home runs and three runs scored.
“Javy had a great game,” said Morris. “I hope this can get things started for him.”
More bright spots on offense came from senior Brad Safchik, who went 3-for-6 with three RBI and sophomore Hass Pratt who went 2-for-5 while driving in four runs.
“We do have a lot of positives to build on, now we just have to start winning some ball games,” said Morris. “We are not out of this by any stretch of the imagination.
In order to get in to the playoffs, the ‘Canes are going to need help from their pitching staff. UM starter Kiki Bengochea was shelled again giving up 10 runs, eight of them earned in four and a third innings pitched. Kiki took his fifth loss of the season in the defeat.
Also of note, UM relief pitcher, Luke DeBold made his first appearance of the season since the Minnesota series back in February. DeBold has been out of the lineup due to a sore elbow. Brought in with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, DeBold gave up the grand slam home run to Drew.
“I still don’t think Luke is completely healthy,” said Morris. “I did feel comfortable bringing him into that situation, because he has been doing it for us consistently for three years.”
In an effort to turn around their season and take their first steps toward making the NCAA tournament, the ‘Canes will host Long Beach State this weekend for a three game set. Game time on Friday night is set for 7p.m. at Mark Light Stadium.