Hurricanes try to focus for series with Coastal Carolina

The baseball team did it again last weekend. It faced a tough ACC opponent, Virginia, and won two out of three games.

April was a tough month for the Hurricanes, as they faced ACC opponents in Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Virginia. In all four series, the ‘Canes came out on top, winning two out of three games each time.

This weekend the Hurricanes will face Coastal Carolina. While they are not an ACC school, Coastal Carolina is a good team that is expected to win its conference. The Chanticleers are not a great team, but they are capable of winning in South Florida. The Chanticleers lost to Elon on Tuesday and have been on a slide as of late. However, this is a dangerous spot for the Hurricanes.

“It’s easy to overlook teams like Coastal Carolina but our coaching staff keeps us focused,” outfielder Richard Giannotti said. “We have a target on our back because every team who comes here wants to beat us and if they win a game here, it’s a huge victory for them.”

The danger is in looking past Coastal Carolina with games against Long Beach State, ACC powerhouse North Carolina, and Jacksonville still ahead in May. In addition, the Hurricanes are coming off four huge series against ACC schools. Hence, Coastal Carolina is the classic sandwich game.

“This is the only thing we have to get up for,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “I think the players understand we are winding down. We don’t have a tournament, so we have to treat every game like our tournament. Every game is important.”

The Hurricanes can feel encouraged by the solid starting pitching they got against Virginia last weekend. J.D. Cockroft was brilliant on Friday and Cesar Carrillo was successful Saturday as well.

“Consistency is a big thing when it comes to starting pitching,” Giannotti said. “The further into the season we get, the better our starting pitchers will be.”

On a negative note, closer George Huguet allowed his first earned run of the season Sunday and could not get the job done in the ninth inning for the first time this season. Regardless, Huguet’s scoreless streak was impressive and something that the team knows they can expect from him again.

“You always expect to win at the end of a game with George. He had not given up a run all season until Sunday. He has done a tremendous job for us all season,” Morris said.

Ryan Braun is starting to feel better in his recovery from a strained rib cage. He is listed as day-to-day and could be ready to play by this weekend. If he is not ready to go, Roger Tomas will get more playing time at shortstop. Also, Dan Touchet will be available for bullpen work this weekend after missing the last two series resting his arm.

Perhaps the most ironic thing about the Hurricanes recent success is that despite winning series against ranked schools, they dropped from fourth to fifth in the polls. However, Morris agrees with the Hurricanes dropping due to Long Beach State earning the sweep last weekend.

“I actually voted for us to drop a spot too,” Morris said. “It is hard voting but if we sweep this weekend, then we have a good chance to move back up if someone loses in front of us.”

Darren Grossman can be contacted at