Rivalry series means even more this time

The Atlantic Coast Conference has certainly created a winding road for the University of Miami baseball team.

After falling to the No. 5 position in last week’s polls, the ‘Canes are once again back at the top, just behind Georgia Tech. The competitive characteristic of the conference makes every game an important part of the season and maintains that any day a win or loss could change the course of a team’s path.

“It just goes to show how close things really are and that if you don’t play well it can cause the team to fall,” said Head Coach Jim Morris. “In the same respect, a win can really turn things around.”

The team’s stellar display led it to two wins against the University of North Carolina and a forced tie due to a curfew imposed by the travel schedule. The Tar Heels posed a threat to the ‘Canes because of their top-notch pitching. The Hurricanes were prepared for UNC as they traveled to Chapel Hill and were able to overcome the looming uncertainties to secure wins in the first two games of the series by scores of 17-7 and 18-9, respectively.

“We feel good about our players’ intensity level during the series,” Morris said. “UNC is an outstanding team and it was definitely a big win for us.”

Freshman hitter Alex Garabedian made his name known at the plate during the series with six runs over the course of the weekend. Garabedian played a crucial role in the wins and was named ACC Player of the Week for his achievements at the plate.

“We were all impressed with his performance and willingness to step in for Brendan Katin,” Morris said.

Katin, who received the same accolades the previous week, underwent minor surgery. He was released to the recovery room on Tuesday and was doing well. Specifics about the injury and what this could mean for Katin’s season have not yet been confirmed.

With the Hurricanes performing well and their sights set on Omaha, the typical in-state rivalry against Florida State now holds more meaning than before. The game is no longer a match-up with merely bragging rights at stake, but is a conference series with each team’s future in the balance. A win would boost the Hurricanes in the standings and potentially secure their invitation to the College World Series. However, a loss would make for a tough recovery.

The rivalry between the ‘Canes and the ‘Noles will now been taken one step further.

“There is a difference in intensity when you play a conference game,” Morris said. “That could be felt from playing UNC. It was not the same as when we played them as part of the regular season in past years.”

The series will begin tonight at 7 p.m. All three games can be heard on WVUM 90.5 FM.

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at s.arnold@umiami.edu.