The University of Miami baseball team (28-13, 15-5) will welcome longtime rival Florida State (31-10, 14-7) to Coral Gables this weekend for a three-game series at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
Both teams are ranked in the top-25 of every major poll, making this edition of Hurricanes versus Seminoles that much more interesting.
“It’s arguably the best series in the country the last 30 years,” Head coach Jim Morris said. “Miami and Florida State have both been very good, it’s just a very competitive series. It’s been a lot of fun for many, many years.”
In what has been a rollercoaster ride of a season, the Hurricanes are playing their best baseball at just the right time. Miami has won 14 of its last 16 games and is coming off of a road series victory over a ranked North Carolina Tar Heels team.
Heading into last weekend’s series, UNC had won an impressive 19 straight games at home.
“To go up to North Carolina to a place where nobody’s been winning, to win two out of three and win a double-header in one day was huge,” Morris said.
Nevertheless, the veteran coach isn’t getting complacent about his team’s recent success.
“As a coach I’m always worried…we’ve won a significant number of games lately and I’m still very, very concerned about how we’re going to play,” Morris said. “I think if you ever get to that point maybe where don’t worry about it or don’t get excited then its time to hang it up.”
Meanwhile, Florida State will come into the weekend having won eight of its last nine contests, including a 3-1 victory over Florida earlier this month.
Last season the Hurricanes went 2-2 against the Seminoles, including a wild three-game series in which each game was decided by only one run.
“They’re always solid,” Morris said of the Seminoles. “They got really solid pitching, they throw strikes, play good defense. They always do.”
The Seminoles do indeed boast one of the best starting pitchers in the nation, junior Sean Gilmartin. The probable Friday night starter has a 1.38 ERA and a 7-1 record overall, with a 4-1 record in the ACC.
In his most recent start against the woeful Duke Blue Devils, Gilmartin pitched eight innings, striking out 13 batters while surrendering just three hits and no walks.
Morris acknowledged the fact that winning this series would go a long way in helping the Hurricanes boost their resume.
“These series are huge. These big series against teams that are ranked, you know, in the top-10, are huge,” Morris said. “If you can play really good against team’s that are ranked high then you have a chance to move up significantly.”
The last time Miami played such a high-profile series was back at the beginning of the season against the Florida Gators. Miami traveled up to Gainesville and lost all three games.
Much has changed since then, however, and the Canes early season struggles seem to be behind them.
“Our team’s playing much more confident,” Morris said. “I think we’re a much better team now than we were a month and a half ago.”
The series will begin this Friday at 7 p.m. All three games can be heard on 90.5 WVUM and WVUM.org.
Adam Berger may be contacted at email@example.com.