‘Noles enter Coral Gables looking for revenge

The Hurricanes and Florida State will meet again this weekend at Mark Light Field.

Last week, the Hurricanes went into Tallahassee and won the series against the Seminoles, taking two out of three games.

The victories moved the Hurricanes up a spot in the national polls to fourth and improved their record to 26-7. In addition, Head Coach Jim Morris is now two wins shy of 500 as a Hurricane.

The ‘Canes struggled Friday, losing a tight game 6-5. However, on Saturday, after falling behind 4-0 at the end of the first inning, the Hurricanes rallied with 15 unanswered runs in what would eventually be an easy 17-11 victory. On Sunday, Brandon Camardese was brilliant as the Hurricanes recorded their first-ever shutout in Tallahassee.

“Winning two out of three games up there was big. They’ve dominated us the last couple of seasons but we dominated them before that, so it goes back and forth,” Morris said.

This weekend, the Seminoles make their way down to Miami to try to even the score. The teams will not be playing a home-and-home series next year when the Hurricanes join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Hurricanes will have to deal with Seminoles ace Eddie Cannon on Friday night. The Hurricanes have struggled lately on Friday nights, losing the last two Friday night games to Georgia Tech and Florida State. These recent struggles have prompted Morris to make some pitching changes. J.D. Cockroft will start Friday’s game against the Seminoles. The move was made to give Dan Touchet time to heal.

“Touchet needs a week or two off to get his arm healthy,” Morris said. “J.D. is a proven performer here for two years, so we believe he can do the job.”

In order to continue their success at home, the Hurricanes will need to find an answer for Seminole sluggers Stephen Drew and Eddy Martinez-Esteve. Drew hit four home runs in the three-game series in Tallahassee, including the game winner Friday night. Martinez-Esteve hit one home run last week, but he is one of the premier hitters in the nation.

“Drew is a good hitter. We need to make him hit our pitch and not make mistakes,” Morris said. “They have a lot of talent in their lineup.”

One of the things that will help the Hurricanes stop Drew is a regular outfield. Miami is happy to be home at Mark Light, where right field is normal depth. At Dick Hauser stadium, the right field fence is high but very short, only 292 feet from home plate, which allows left-handed power hitters like Drew to have an easy homerun target.

“I like a legitimate-sized outfield. Their right field fence is very short so I don’t like coaching in that environment because a pop-up gets over the fence and changes the game,” Morris said. “I think we have a very fair field. If you hit the ball well, it goes out.”

The key to the series for the Hurricanes will once again be the starting pitching’s ability to perform. With the victories in Tallahassee, the Hurricanes cannot afford to lose this series at Mark Light.

“The pitching needs to set the tone of the games,” outfielder Brian Barton said. “The pressure is still on us because we have more to lose. We just need to play good, solid defense, have good pitching, and get timely hitting. If we do that, we will have a huge advantage.”

Darren Grossman can be contacted at d.grossman@umiami.edu.