Canes bow out in Regionals, miss CWS again

Senior Peter O'Brien crushes a ball down the line during the Alumni Game. O'Brien, one of the Hurricanes' most dangerous bats, missed significant time late in the season after he was hit by a pitch and broke his wrist. Zach Beeker // Staff Photographer

Heading into the 2012 college baseball season, there was plenty of reason for excitement among the Hurricane faithful.

With senior transfer catcher Peter O’Brien transferring to Miami and longtime pitcher Eric Erickson returning to the Canes after a long struggle with elbow surgery, there was plenty to look forward to.

And while Miami did make it to its record 40th-straight postseason, the year that had so much potential could not have ended in uglier fashion.

Just days after being selected as a host site for an NCAA Regional – a surprise for many who expected a return trip to the Gainesville regional – the Hurricanes were eliminated from the postseason in two games.

After losing 10-2 to the No. 4 seed Stony Brook – which has solidified its role as this year’s Cinderella after advancing to the College World Series – on the first day, Miami would go on to give up seven runs in the first inning of what ended up being a season-ending 12-2 loss to Missouri State.

Miami’s season was a jourey that at one point had the Canes ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation, so getting swept out of regionals was not the way anyone was expecting them to go out.

“Our fans, along with me, are very spoiled,” said head coach Jim Morris following the loss. “I know they’re frustrated, I know they’re calling for my head. I mean, I’m not crazy. I’ve heard people say that. We’re very spoiled. We expect to go to Omaha every year. That’s a very, very tough thing.”

Coming off a win against North Carolina in the ACC tournament just a week prior, Morris looked to senior Steven Ewing to give the Canes a dominant performance and get them back in the hunt for another regional victory. In his final start as a Hurricane, however, nothing went well, as Ewing surrended seven runs and couldn’t get out of the first inning.

“I just wasn’t throwing strikes,” he said. “We came out expecting to win and we didn’t execute.”

Although the season ended earlier then they hoped, some Hurricane players got good news a few days later. O’Brien was selected in the second round by the New York Yankees, which also used their selection in the 34th round to select Erickson.

Other draftees include Ewing, who was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 20th round, closer E.J. Encinosa to the San Francisco Giants and shortstop Stephen Perez to the Washington Nationals.

The Hurricanes continue to send players to the MLB on a consistant basis, but the emphasis on the team still remains getting back to Omaha. The team has not been to the College World Series since 2008, and Morris knows that the problem has to be fixed.

“We have to figure out how to get it going again, big time,” he said. “Around here it doesn’t mean get it going. It means get it going big time or you’re not happy.”