Elon, the alma mater of Head Coach Jim Morris, will travel to Mark Light Stadium this weekend for a three game series with the Miami Hurricanes, who will enter with a record of 4-4 on the season.
The ‘Canes, who lost two of three against the Florida Gators last weekend, will look to ride the hot bats of first baseman Yonder Alonso once again as they try to give their pitchers enough of a comfort zone to get past their early season jitters.
“I felt like we were competitive all weekend,” Alonso said. “Our starting pitching wasn’t there but our bullpen was. We’re a team and you just got to stick together and get everything working for you at once.”
Alonso has already hit five home runs this season, and more of his offense will be needed until the pitching can get back in gear. Although the ‘Canes managed to score 24 runs against the Gators last weekend, they were only able to come away with one win, a testament to a lack of clutch hitting in the late innings as well as bad pitching.
“We’ve got to pitch better,” Morris said. “We have to hit in clutch situations better, where we left some guys on base. We’ve got to play better defense. We overall have to play better.”
Morris also feels that while things have not gotten off to the roaring start that most expected this season, all is not bad.
“Yonder is off to a great start,” Morris said. “He’s the league’s hottest hitter and probably leading the nation in home runs at this point in time. Our young pitching is throwing good, so there are a lot of things going well both offensively and defensively.”
Of his hot start, Alonso insists that it is not a product of a new type of regiment or focus.
“I just take each game at a time,” Alonso said. “I just see how they are pitching me and try to hit the ball hard at all times.”
One change that will have impacts on both the starting and relief pitching will be the ascension of Eric Erickson, a true freshman, into the starting pitching rotation. Scott Maine will remain Friday night’s starter, with Manny Miguelez sliding into the Sunday spot in place of Danny Gil, who will return to a more familiar role out of the bullpen.
This series will have a special meaning for Morris, who graduated from Elon in 1973.
“Their baseball team is very solid,” Morris said. “They’re a team that can win the Southern Conference.”
Morris is not underestimating the Flames, and will see to it that his team does not either.
“First we’ll tell them to look at the box score against Mercer and let them know that anyone can beat you,” Morris said. “Secondly, Elon’s my school, and we better not lose to them.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.