Baseball, Sports

Canes poised to put 2017 shortcoming behind them

Romy Gonzalez

Junior Romy Gonzalez makes clean contact during the Orange and Green World Series Nov. 6-11 at Mark Light Field. The scrimmage was a best-of-five series to finish off fall baseball. Photo credit: Josh White

The Miami clubhouse fell silent.

After finding out they wouldn’t be making the postseason for the first time in 45 years, the Hurricanes were dejected. It was like a bad dream.

“It was the toughest year of my coaching career without question,” head coach Jim Morris said at Miami’s first day of spring practice. “I wouldn’t be coaching 25 years if I had many of those seasons at Miami. It’s definitely a motivation to get better, for me and for our team.”

But this year, the Canes are poised to start a new run.

“We certainly haven’t forgotten about that,” senior left-handed ace Jeb Bargfeldt said. “It has fueled us throughout the fall. It has fueled us throughout our workouts.”

Despite suffering an off year, Miami still has its sights set high. The College World Series is in June in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Since day one, the goal is Omaha,” said junior outfielder Danny Reyes, who transferred from Broward College after spending the 2016 season at the University of Florida. “Anything less than Omaha is not a good year.”

And if the Hurricanes needed any extra motivation, the 2018 campaign will be the 25th and final season for Morris.

“It’s going to be an emotional year for me,” Morris said. “I think we have a good club. I’m excited about the talent level we have this year.”

Miami garnered multiple preseason top 25 rankings, including a No. 9 ranking by Perfect Game USA.

Bargfeldt said the team has a strong combination of new players and veterans, who have experienced both success and failure.

“We’re a type of team that can beat you in a number of different ways, if we play to our full potential,” he said.

The Hurricanes return 2017 team MVP Romy Gonzalez, who finished with a team-high 11 home runs and 38 RBI. Bargfeldt, who was an All-ACC second team honoree, had a 7-3 record as a starter with a 2.28 ERA. Junior reliever Andrew Cabezas recorded a 2.15 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 62.2 innings pitched.

Miami also brings back hard-throwing, right-handed sophomore Gregory Veliz, redshirt senior outfielder Michael Burns and junior reliever Frankie Bartow.

UM adds a recruiting class ranked No. 8 by Baseball America, headlined by right-handed starting pitcher Christopher McMahon and infielders Raymond Gil and Alex Toral.

McMahon, who is hopeful to return by late March after undergoing offseason knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 33rd round of the 2017 MLB Draft, while Gil was selected in the 37th round by the Oakland Athletics.

Toral, who was ranked No. 199 according to Baseball America’s top 500 draft-eligible prospects, went undrafted.

“They work as hard as anyone else,” Bargfeldt said of the newcomers. “They get here early and they leave late. Those are things you can’t coach. Those are things you possess yourself. The torch is being passed to them this year.”

Although the lineup might feature young players, the Canes starting rotation should remain intact from a year ago. Bargfeldt, Veliz and Evan McKendry will most likely headline the weekend, while Michael Mediavilla should get the first crack during the week.

“There are five or six guys that could be ones or twos on different staffs throughout the country,” Bargfeldt said of Miami’s rotation. “I think that’s something we used to our benefit. I think throughout the fall, all we’ve done is compete against each other, and that’s just made us better.”

Miami kicks off its season with a three-game series against Rutgers at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Mark Light Field.

January 29, 2018

Reporters

Josh White


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