Starting Pitching Advantage: Miami
The Hurricanes’ weekend starts have been phenomenal. In 11 of their last 12 starts, each weekend starter has allowed three earned runs or less. The backbone of this team is pitching. Senior Saturday starter Jason Santana, who just a couple weeks ago was on the verge of coming out of the weekend rotation, has dominated in ACC play. Redshirt junior Eric Erickson continues to gain more arm strength and junior Chris Hernandez is back to freshman form. Wake Forest has the third worst team ERA in the ACC. Tim Cooney, WF’s Friday night starter, is solid posting a sub three ERA in six starts.
Bullpen Advantage: Miami
Despite the fact the senior closer David Gutierrez blew a five-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning last Saturday against N.C. State, the Canes still are versatile in the bullpen. Freshman E.J. Encinosa has filthy stuff while sophomore Sam Robinson is essentially automatic when facing lefties. Freshman Eric Whaley has gained confidence and found himself in a predominant role as well. Wake Forest has three players that have at least one save so clearly they have a bullpen by committee.
Catcher Advantage: Miami
This weekend’s ACC showdown in Coral Gables features two veteran men behind the plate. Senior Mike Murray leads the Demon Deacons in batting average and RBI. Junior Yasmani Grandal has not only been the Canes hottest hitter, but also the most clutch hitter. Grandal has the advantage, but don’t over look Murray.
Infield Advantage: Miami
Every Wake Forest starting infielder is hitting below .300. Meanwhile, the Canes have a well-balanced infield. Senior Scott Lawson has snapped out of a slump since being dropped to the seven hole in the Duke series. Freshman Frankie Ratcliff has found his niche at second base. Miami takes this one easily. And I didn’t even mention the slick-fielding freshman Stephen Perez and sophomore sensation Harold Martinez.
Outfield Advantage: Wake Forest
Miami outfielder Chris Pelaez is in a major slump and cannot buy a hit. Sophomore Nathan Melendres has stepped up his game as of late. Miami has speed but Stephen Brooks, the WF center fielder is a defensive specialist. He leads the team with 11 steals as well. Redshirt junior Ryan Semeniuk, the WF left fielder, has started every game thus far and is a constant in the lineup.
Intangibles Advantage: Miami
Miami leads the all-time series 19-5. Miami is 7-2 in the ACC while Wake is 2-7. Wake Forest has a new head coach in Tom Walter. He led New Orleans to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in his five years, but it’s clear to him the ACC is a lot tougher. No one is better than Jim Morris who has made all the right calls this year. The easy favorite here is Miami. They should sweep.
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.