Baseball faces tough challenge

The baseball team is once again performing to its pre-season expectations as the Hurricanes swept Virginia Tech last weekend.

Hokie forces were no match for UM, despite Miami being was forced to play out of state in a bit colder weather than what the team is accustomed to playing in.

“We feel good about the wins because anytime you go on the road and are able to sweep the opponent, you’ve got something to feel good about,” said Head Coach Jim Morris. “It’s always harder to win on the road than it is at home because of our fans and the environment of our own field.”

Players excelled in all areas of the game, showing vast improvements over the mediocre display that caused a split in the four-game series against Oral Roberts the previous week.

Sophomore Danny Valencia had eight RBIs, junior Cesar Carrillo pitched a peak performance and sophomore Chris Perez threw at the conclusion of the third game of the series to add another win to his record. Senior Brian Katin’s stellar performance led to the award of ACC player of the week.

“He’s a guy with great potential and when he puts all of his skill together he’s very powerful at bat and on the field,” Morris said. “He can single-handedly wreck an entire game with the RBIs he accumulates.”

With spirits high, the ‘Canes will venture north once again to Chapel Hill, N.C., where they will take on the Tar Heels in a pivotal series beginning Friday evening. According to the latest ACC rankings, UM fell to the No. 5 position with 11 wins and four losses. The University of North Carolina currently holds the second spot, recording 11 wins and two losses. The series winner would gain a profound advantage that could possibly turn the tide of the season.

The team is altering its usual practice structure to incorporate more scrimmage games and to increase the amount of work on the pitchers’ strengths and weaknesses.

“We have to secure our bullpen if we’re going to make it to the promised land in Omaha,” Morris said.

The coaching staff has identified the largest obstacle for the upcoming weekend as UNC’s pitching strength. The Tar Heels’ left-handed pitcher, Andrew Miller, will start Friday night against the ‘Canes. Miller is believed to be one of the most outstanding pitchers in college baseball and will prove to be a challenge for the Hurricanes, while certainly making for an interesting meeting with the equally gifted Carrillo.

Morris, who grew up as a Tar Heels fan, knows well the importance of winning this series and assures that there are no personal feelings involved.

“I admire the school for their academics and athletics, but at the same time I just want to beat them like anyone else.”

Stacey Arnold can be contacted