Entering hostile territory

The Miami Hurricanes (24-12, 9-6) find themselves in an interesting position after the fifth week of Atlantic Coast Conference play. Despite dropping five of the last six games at home over the last two weeks, Miami is still tied for first in the Coastal Division.

The team will continue its maturation process this weekend as they will travel to in-state rival Florida State for a three-game series in front of some of the rowdiest fans in the country.

Head Coach Jim Morris said he’ll let his younger guys know what to expect.

“It’s a great rivalry, one of the best in college baseball,” Morris said. “We have to make sure that the guys are focused and that they concentrate even though it’s a sold-out crowd and they’ll be hollering at us.”

The Hurricanes and Seminoles have battled 243 times on the baseball diamond, with FSU leading the all-time series 128-111-4. Miami took two of three last season at home against Florida State, when the Hurricanes were fifth in the country. The Hurricanes scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth in the Friday game to win 5-3.

This year, the Seminoles are the team ranked higher, entering the series as high as No. 2 in the country in one poll. The record might be even more impressive than their ranking, as they are 31-4 and 12-3 in the conference entering Wednesday’s contest against Jacksonville.

Nearly the whole starting lineup for the Seminoles is hitting above .300, with junior outfielder Shane Robinson leading the way at a .374 clip. Robinson also leads the team with 20 steals in 22 attempts.

Junior righty Brian Henry is set to pitch Friday night. Henry is 8-1 with a 1.74 ERA and has 73 strikeouts in 67.1 innings of work. Fellow right-hander Tyler Chambliss is scheduled for Saturday night. Chambliss is also 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA and was a third team pre-season All-American.

Sunday’s finale will feature senior left-hander Barrett Browning, who is 6-0 with a 4.20 ERA thus far.

The Hurricanes will look to get their starting pitchers back on track after a couple of rough weeks in a row. Carlos Gutierrez, Manny Miguelez, and Scott Maine have all seen their ERA’s creep higher and higher each week and Morris said they’re going to have to turn it around quickly.

“Our three starters haven’t been throwing as well as they had been,” Morris said. “They are going to have to get it going again for us to be successful.”

Catcher Eddy Rodriguez continues to lead the team with a .354 batting average and is tied for the team lead in homeruns with Yonder Alonso with six.

Miami and Florida State will get things started at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday’s game is scheduled for 1 p.m. All three games can be heard on WVUM 90.5 FM.

Douglas Kroll can be contacted at d.kroll@umiami.edu.