If the sixth ranked Hurricanes could avoid playing on Saturdays, Head Coach Jim Morris would gladly oblige.
Four of the five Miami losses this season have come on the second day of the weekend, including this past series against Wake Forest. Even with the Saturday mishaps, the team is still sitting pretty at 20-5 overall and 7-2 in their first campaign in the ACC.
The Hurricanes have won 11 out of their last 13 games, entering Wednesday’s match up at cross-town rival FIU. While many students were away enjoying spring break, Miami went 6-1 during that stretch, including a weekend sweep of Duke, a win against Rutgers and taking two of three at Wake Forest this past weekend in their first road ACC series.
On Friday afternoon, the Hurricanes pounded the Demon Deacons 11-2 after another brilliant start from staff ace Cesar Carrillo, who improved to 5-0 this season and has never lost a game as a Miami Hurricane.
Saturday afternoon saw Miami get out slugged 13-6 as Wake Forest ended UM’s seven game winning streak. Ryan Braun went deep to move onto the Hurricanes’ top 10 career homerun list, but the great pitching the team had gotten for the last two weeks wasn’t there. Starter Dan Touchet only lasted 4.2 innings, giving up six earned runs on eight hits.
The rubber game of the series proved much better for the Hurricanes pitching staff as they got another terrific performance from Ricky Orta, who went seven innings, giving up one run on six hits.
During the week, Miami saw the debut of pitcher Scott Maine, who has been out ever since arriving on campus as a freshman after having Tommy John surgery. Following extensive rehab, Maine has made two appearances and has yet to give up an earned run. Maine will provide another option for Morris in the bullpen as the year goes on.
The starters carried the team on their shoulders in recent weeks, as Carrillo and Orta each have an ERA under two, at 1.10 and 1.67, respectively.
The lineup has also come alive in different places from the beginning of the season. Leftfielder Jon Jay, who was hitting over .540 heading into the Duke series, has cooled off a little and is down to a still respectable .470. First Baseman Danny Valencia has been on fire of late and is sitting at .354 with three homeruns and 33 RBI in his first season in the orange and green.
One of the best things that has happened to the lineup as of late is the recent hitting tear from the catchers. After both Eddy Rodriguez and Alex Garabedian struggled mightily to start the season at the plate, they came alive this weekend-especially Rodriguez, who slammed his first two homeruns of the season.
The Hurricanes enter a huge weekend series against a very good Georgia Tech team, ranked fifth in the country. For the first time in their history, Miami not only has to worry about this series in a national sense, but also in a conference frame of mind.
Douglas C. Kroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org