Baseball faces toughest road challenge of season

April will certainly be the toughest month of the baseball team’s season.

The ‘Canes go on the road for their first six games of the month, traveling to Georgia Tech and Florida State. After that, they return home to face the Seminoles once again and Virginia.

It won’t get any easier after that for the Hurricanes with North Carolina and Long Beach State still on the schedule.

“April is an important month and a challenging month,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “If we don’t play as well as we want to, we need to be able to make adjustments.”

This weekend, the Hurricanes will be in Georgia on their longest road trip of the season. The Hurricanes do not play many games on the road and Georgia Tech is the only team they play out of the state of Florida. The Hurricanes previously went on the road to South Florida for two games and to Florida International for a game. The Hurricanes are 22-5 on the season entering the six game road trip. However, they are just 1-2 on the road thus far.

“It’s always more challenging playing on the road because of the hostile environment,” shortstop Ryan Braun said. “Beating a good team on the road would make a huge statement for our team.”

Georgia Tech is traditionally one of the top teams in the country, but it has struggled this year, posting just a 16-11 record entering the weekend series against Miami. However, the Yellow Jackets have won seven of their last nine contests, including a 20-5 victory over No. 13 Auburn Tuesday, which shows that they may be returning back to their old form.

“When we go on the road, I like to play good teams to be challenged. Georgia Tech has not played as well as expected, but they have a lot of talent,” Morris said. “All their guys are good players.”

The Yellow Jackets boast five regular starters who are hitting better than .333 and all three of their regular starting pitchers have an earned run average under four. In addition, leading hitter Micah Owings hit two home runs and drove in six runs against Auburn, increasing his team-leading numbers to nine homeruns and 31 runs batted in. Along with being a force in the middle of Tech’s lineup, Owings is also one of their regular starting pitchers, posting a 3-2 record in seven appearances this season, six of which he started.

For the Hurricanes to beat the Yellow Jackets, they will need to continue to play well and get quality outings from their starting pitchers.

“We have a really tough schedule and for us to have a good record, we need to pitch well and get timely hitting,” Morris said. “I thought we played really well last week against Penn State, so if we play that way, we should be fine.”

The next six road games should be an indication to Hurricane fans on how well this team can play. If they win these next two road series, it will show skeptics that they are going to be a major postseason threat. If they lose, they will need to come home and rebound in the friendly confines of Mark Light Field.

“We can’t let these next six games affect us,” Braun said. “If we lose, we will put it behind us and move on.”

The Hurricanes will look to ace Dan Touchet to start Friday night against the Yellow Jackets.

“Our rotation will be Touchet, Carrillo, and Camardese,” Morris said. “All three have been throwing well lately.”

Winning on the road is never easy. Winning on the road against good teams is an even harder task.

“We are playing better competition now, so the guys need to step up,” Morris said. “If we are 44-10 going into the post season, I’ll be happy.”

Darren Grossman can be contacted at