Mixed results as Miami heads to Charlottesville

When the Miami baseball team looked at the national rankings last weekend after sweeping Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes found themselves in the top 10 in all of the polls for the first time this season. With a pesky Oral Roberts team coming in this weekend, it seemed as though Miami would continue its march to the top of college baseball.
However, the ‘Canes mediocre play this weekend will certainly make voters think twice about whether or not to keep the squad in the top ten.
All was not lost for the ‘Canes, as they still won the series two games to one. Miami finally put the series away after another seesaw affair on Sunday by collecting an 11-8 victory and improving its record to 25-6 on the season. Hurricane reliever Israel Chirino picked up the win for the ‘Canes.
“Neither team played very well this weekend, and we are extremely lucky to come out and win two games,” head coach Jim Morris said.
After a horrendous outing for the squad on Saturday, Morris shook up the lineup in hopes of generating offense while at the same time helping to cut down on the numerous errors that have been plaguing the infield all season long.
The new look infield for the ‘Canes included normal second baseman Adam Ricks starting at third, and Ryan Braun made his first start at shortstop. Joey Hooft came off the bench to start at second.
“We took a step back after Georgia Tech and now we have to re-evaluate our level of play,” Morris said. “We are not where we need to be at this point in the season and whoever plays well will stay in the line-up.”
In the game, Braun extended his hitting streak to 13 games as well as driving in a key run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Center fielder Danny Figueroa chipped in on offense with the first home run of his career to left center field in the fourth inning as well as adding a run-scoring single in the bottom of the seventh.
“I wasn’t looking for anything special,” Figueroa said. “He threw me a fastball and I just turned on it.”
In the Saturday loss, the ‘Canes put out what could have been their worst performance of the season. Oral Roberts pounded Miami pitching and shut down Hurricane bats to claim the 10-1 win. ORU starter Dennis Bigley almost single handedly beat the ‘Canes by pitching a complete game and going 2-4 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI.
Vince Bongiovanni took the loss for Miami and third baseman Gaby Sanchez drove in the only run of the game for the Hurricanes.
Miami won the opener 8-5 on the pitching of J.D. Cockroft who went a career high 7.2 innings, giving up two runs and striking out a career high eight batters in the contest. Catcher Erick San Pedro hit his third home run of the season and extended his hitting streak to 12 games only to have it snapped on Saturday night.
Up next the ‘Canes will travel north to the University of Virginia for a three game series with the Cavaliers.
They will return home in two weeks for the front half of a home and home series with bitter rival Florida State.
“April always seems to be the toughest month on the schedule,” Morris said. “We have a home and home series with the ACC’s best in FSU coming up and Virginia hasn’t played badly this year either. Virginia is going to be a tough place to play and our team has to step up the level of intensity in the next few weeks.”

Ryan Ellis can be reached at msgnyc@yahoo.com