Miami preps for weekend series against Appalachian State

Miami won its first series of the 2011 season this past weekend, taking two out of three games from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

The pitching and defense throughout the series was by and large excellent, with one or two exceptions.

“We made one error this weekend,” said head coach Jim Morris following Sunday’s rubber match victory. “We played great defense.”

Offensive production and situational hitting, on the other hand, left much to be desired. The ‘Canes will look to improve at the plate heading into their upcoming series against the Appalachian State Mountaineers.

“We’re going to have to hit better than we hit this weekend,” Morris said.

The ‘Canes scored 13 runs total against Rutgers, compared to 31 total runs when the two teams faced each other to begin the 2010 season.

The new NCAA regulation aluminum bats, which mimic the effect of wood bats, have gotten a lot of attention early on this year. While they certainly are a factor in the low offensive numbers, the ‘Canes simply didn’t hit in key situations.

“We had some opportunities to score with the bases loaded more than one time and didn’t put the ball in play,” Morris said.

Miami left 28 runners on base during the series.

The Hurricanes will take on the 4-0 Mountaineers in a three game set starting this Thursday night. While Miami won’t admit it publicly, it’s the last series the team will play before the competition really starts to heat up.

The ‘Canes will travel to Gainesville on March 4th to face Florida. The Gators are ranked number one overall in the nation, and are a familiar opponent for Miami.

Last year the ‘Canes went 1-4 against its in-state rival, including two tough losses in the NCAA Super Regionals which ended the ‘Canes 2010 season.

Taking nothing away from teams like Rutgers and Appalachian State, Morris recognized that better pitching awaits his team.

“We’re going to see better pitching, particularly in the Atlantic Coast Conference,” Morris said.  “We’re going to have to swing the bat better.”

Fortunately for the ‘Canes their pitching has been impressive so far, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen.

Junior closer Daniel Miranda acknowledged that there will be added pressure on the pitching staff moving forward.

“The bats are changing and [games are] going to be low scoring,” junior closer Daniel Miranda said.  “We’re going to have to depend on the bullpen and pitchers going deep.”

Adam Berger may be contacted at