Baseball, Sports

Inconsistencies plaguing Jim Morris’ final season

Romy Gonzalez

Junior Romy Gonzalez gets set for defense in a matchup against top-ranked Florida Feb. 23 at Mark Light Field. Miami would lose 7-3. Photo credit: Josh White

Halfway through the season, the Miami Hurricanes are sitting in the exact same spot as they did in 2017 – considered the worst in 45 years – with a subpar record of 12-15.

UM came into the 2018 campaign eyeing a bounce-back season in Jim Morris’ 25th and final year as head coach, but instead, the team has run into the same issues and gone in the same direction.

While Miami boasts one of the best pitching staffs in the Atlantic Coast Conference, inconsistencies at the plate and in the field have contributed to multiple devastating losses.

Hitting Woes

After hitting just .231 last year, the Hurricanes were expected to make tremendous strides in the box this season. That hasn’t been the case.

The Canes rank second to last in the ACC in batting with a .246 average, just 2 points ahead of Wake Forest. Miami leads the conference with 284 strikeouts, more than 30 strikeouts greater than the next closest team.

Junior slugger Romy Gonzalez, who was the 2017 team MVP and led the squad with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs, has struggled mightily. He is hitting just .194 with two home runs, 12 RBIs and 32 strikeouts, which ranks second to last on the team.

Highly touted freshman Alex Toral has been even worse. The Archbishop McCarthy product is batting .149 with only one home run, nine RBIs and 30 strikeouts.

“We’ve got a lot of talent, but more guys need to take that opportunity and do something with it,” redshirt senior Michael Perez said. “We’re just missing those two-out hits or getting those runs that are on third base. Those are the important things, and we’re going to have to bear down and start doing it.”

Fielding Struggles

Throughout Morris’ tenure, UM teams have been known for their exceptional defense. However, in 2018, the Canes have consistently made defensive mistakes.

“They’ve developed a lot offensively, no question, but all of our young guys have made some mistakes that you don’t see on paper or don’t see watching the game exactly,” Morris said.

Miami ranks last in the conference in fielding percentage at 0.963 and has made the second most errors in the ACC with 38.

Freshman shortstop Freddy Zamora has made eight errors, while fellow freshman Raymond Gil has made six.

Injuries

To make matters worse for the Hurricanes, some of their top players have been sidelined for the majority of the first half of the season.

Junior outfielder Danny Reyes, who was hitting a team-high .400 through the first seven games, has missed the last 20 contests recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He is expected to miss a couple more weeks.

Redshirt freshman catcher Michael Amditis returned against Georgia Tech March 31 after missing the previous 17 games with a right hand injury. Freshman Chris McMahon made his official collegiate debut after having offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Looking forward

But there is still optimism for the Canes. Despite dropping its last four games, Miami has shown flashes this season. It has six ranked wins, including a win over No. 1 Florida and a sweep of No. 24 Virginia.

Freshmen Isaac Quiñones and Willy Escala have been unsung heroes with the bat, hitting .364 and .333, respectively. Senior Hunter Tackett has provided a big time spark at the plate and in the field.

Miami’s starting rotation of Jeb Bargfeldt, Evan McKendry, Andrew Cabezas and Daniel Federman has been lights out. McKendry has garnered three ACC Pitcher of the Week awards this season.

The 2017 Canes were able to finish the second half of the season strong but didn’t do enough to make the NCAA Baseball tournament. The 2018 team will need to do even more to ensure it doesn’t reap the same result.

Miami will look to end a four-game skid when it hosts Florida Atlantic University at 6 p.m. April 4.

April 2, 2018

Reporters

Josh White


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