The Miami Hurricanes travel to Blacksburg, VA, this weekend to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in a three-game series.
While the game will certainly take on a more serious undertone than once thought, the Hurricanes will try to prepare for the series as they would for any other series. The mood will certainly be somber, but the ‘Canes know that they still have games to play and problems to work on as a baseball team.
After coming into last weekend having won seven of nine games, the Hurricanes dropped their series to the North Carolina State Wolfpack two games to one, including their biggest loss of the season on Sunday, a 19-9 debacle.
“The main thing is that we made errors on Friday and pitched poorly on Sunday,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “We could’ve and probably should’ve won on Friday. We just got smoked on Sunday because we pitched badly and got in a deep hole and couldn’t climb out of it.”
Pitching has been inconsistent all year, but after four straight strong starts by Scott Maine and a dominant complete game from Enrique Garcia on Saturday, the staff is heading in the right direction. One thing that has hurt them the past two weekends has been the absence of staff ace Eric Erickson, who Morris said will likely be on the mound on Sunday.
“Scott’s thrown good the last four times out, but we have to get him the run support to win,” Morris said. “He hasn’t won in the last four weeks, but he certainly has pitched well enough to win all four games.”
Besides the return of Erickson, which will help alleviate the strain on the bullpen, the ‘Canes also expect the return of second baseman Jemile Weeks this weekend. Weeks will not only provide his usual stellar defense at second base (always a boon to the pitching staff), he will also provide a spark at the top of the order. Adding Weeks to the hot bats of fellow sophomores Yonder Alonso, Dennis Raben and Blake Tekotte could be what the Hurricanes need to go on an extended run to close the regular season.
“It really doesn’t mean anything if I have a good day if we lose,” said Alonso, who leads the team in homeruns, RBI, batting average and stolen bases. “We do a good job as teammates of keeping each other focused. We have to go get some wins, because that is what matters here.”
As for last weekend, the ‘Canes believe that a short memory is an asset when it comes to thinking about previous games, whether it is a victory or a loss.
“We just need to practice and get better,” Alonso said. “Everyday we have to get better just like coach says. We are young and we make a lot of mistakes but we have to get past it. We have to keep learning and get ready for Virginia Tech.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.