A state rivalry will be reborn when the undefeated University of Miami Hurricanes take on the Florida Gators in a three-game series in Gainesville beginning Friday.
The two teams last met at the NCAA Super Regionals where Miami won consecutive games on its way to the College World Series in Omaha.
The 2004 regular season series consisted of a 3-0 win by Florida in the opener. The ‘Canes came back in the next two games, scoring 4-1 and 19-5, giving them the series victory.
This will be the first of many road trips for the Hurricanes this season, which adds a new element to the weekday practices.
“There is a different approach when preparing for a road game, especially a larger school like UF because you know you’re going to have a big crowd and be in an environment where they’re yelling at you as opposed to for you,” said Head Coach Jim Morris.
The Gators may have one loss under their belt already, but they still could be a threat to the ‘Canes. Both teams are viable contenders for the national championship and with the long standing hatred that exists between the Florida teams, it sets up this series as a pivotal early point of the season.
“Having gone to high school in the state of Florida, I know a few of the guys on the team at UF, which makes it more of a personal rivalry,” sophomore pitcher Chris Perez said. “At the end of it all, you just want to go home with bragging rights.”
Despite uncertainties at the start of the season, the ‘Canes have settled into a routine that has elicited success.
Perez proved his strength as a starting pitcher initially against High Point. He continued to excel against USF last weekend, striking out a careerhigh nine batters.
Sophomore Danny Valencia made clear his ability to bat, contributing to improving the overall depth in hitting viewed as a weakness prior to the first game.
Morris will use the same lineup from Sunday’s game against USF. This weekend Eddy Rodriguez will start at catcher, Paco Figueroa at second base, and Perez will make his way into the regular rotation along with Cesar Carrillo at pitcher. With Danny Figueroa back in the mix, Miami’s lineup is solid.
The ‘Canes are well-conditioned and ready to take on the Gators in a regionally televised series that can be seen on Sunshine network.
“Florida has a talented team, good pitching and a veteran club, but we’re prepared. Our guys are really excited about this series,” Morris said.
Stacey Arnold can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.