Antweil: Baseball team exceeding expectations, but how? I’ve got three reasons



When the 2009 University of Miami baseball roster was unveiled, no one knew what to expect. It looked like the drive to a fifth national championship would be in jeopardy, as this team has 14 newcomers. A third of the way through the season, the No. 2-ranked Hurricanes should be pleasantly surprised with their production thus far.

There are three reasons why this team has surpassed expectations:

1) Bullpen: The bullpen dominates and is definitely UM’s best asset. Coming into this week (through 22 games), the pen had an ERA of 1.67. The bullpen is anchored by standout closer Kyle Bellamy, who leads all ACC pitchers with six saves and is 3-0 this season. In 16 innings pitched, he has struck out 25 while allowing one earned run. Junior Taylor Wulf has been a solid setup man. He is tied for the team lead in appearances and has only given up one earned run in 11 outings. Junior Michael Rudman has been an unsung hero, as he has not allowed a run and surrendered two hits in 10.2 innings pitched.

2) David Gutierrez: Coming into this season, the only definitive spot in the pitching rotation was Friday night with Chris Hernandez. With the absence of Eric Erickson (elbow surgery), there was concern over who would step up and be an effective Saturday starter. Gutierrez has been that man for Miami. UM is 4-1 in games he starts. He works quickly and keeps hitters off balance with his curve ball. He leads the ACC in ERA (0.88).

3) Resiliency: The Hurricanes have 12 come-from-behind wins this season. They have the worst fielding percentage in the ACC, but they are able to overcome their defensive deficiencies with timely hitting. They have three home walk-off wins this season. They swept No. 12 UF in Gainesville, won two of three games against the surging Duke Blue Devils and handed Virginia its first two losses of the season this past weekend. This team is clutch and able to rise to the occasion.