Canes selected for Gainesville regional as No. 2 seed

The Hurricanes celebrate a victory over the Louisville Cardinals on May 22 in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Hurricanes celebrate a victory over the Louisville Cardinals on May 22 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo credit: UM Athletics

The Hurricanes will hit the road for the regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

They’ll compete this weekend in the double elimination bracket with No. 1 regional seed and No. 15 national seed Florida, No. 3 regional seed South Alabama and No. 4 regional seed South Florida.

Miami (32-19, 20-15 ACC) will have to get past the Gators once again after beating them opening weekend at Florid Ballpark in a series for the first time since 2014. This trip will see 100 percent capacity allowed into the stadium’s first postseason games.

“We’re all pumped to be going back to Gainesville. We’re ready to end people’s seasons,” said Hurricanes second baseman Anthony Vilar.

“They’re a different team now,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said on Florida compared to February. “We are too.”

Florida finished with a 17-13 record in Southeastern Conference play, with a series win over No. No. 4 national seed Vanderbilt while also getting swept by top national seed Arkansas in the final month of the regular season.

South Alabama, who the Canes will see first at 5 p.m. Friday on ACC Network, is fresh off a Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship, a 15-9 conference record and a 33-20 overall mark.

They are 0-2 against Power 5 opponents (Alabama and LSU) and are 1-2 against their only common foe with the Hurricanes (Appalachian State, who UM swept).

“We’re trying to pull up as much information on schools. It’s like a hurry up and get ready type of deal. We’re trying to get as much information [on South Alabama] as we can because we don’t know anything about them,” said DiMare.

He did stress the importance of that game, citing a regional-opening loss to Central Michigan in 2019.

“Can’t get to Florida until you take care of the first game,” DiMare emphasized.

Of note, the South Alabama Jaguars have senior left-handed pitcher Andy Arguelles on their roster, who is the brother of Miami’s sophomore reliever Anthony Arguelles. The elder Arguelles boasts a 7.63 ERA for South Alabama.

South Florida enters the regional as the American Athletic Conference Tournament champion, going 5-1 over the six-day event. The Bulls were not expected to have earned an at-large tournament bid without the conference title, going just 28-27 overall in 2021 with a .500 conference record.

USF is 2-7 against opponents the Hurricanes have faced, including 0-6 vs. Florida Gulf Coast and 2-1 against Florida Atlantic.

UM will play the winner of UF-USF on Saturday if they beat South Alabama, or play the loser of the Gators vs. Bulls matchup if they drop the opening contest.

Miami enters the regional having won five of their final seven regular season games, but with a pair of losses as well to eventual conference champion Duke and Florida State in the ACC Tournament.

Heading into the weekend, DiMare is preaching consistency from his team, which has shown mixed amounts of it throughout 2021.

“We’ve shown signs where we can play really, really good,” DiMare said. “And we’ve shown signs that we can’t. This is not the time for that. If you have hiccups, you’re not going to be playing very long.”

“There are going to be upsets. There are going to be teams that are not hosts that are going to win regionals. This thing is wide open. Everyone is 0-0. The hottest teams are going to be the teams that advance. We have to put it all together.”

The winner of the four-team Gainesville regional will face whoever comes out of the Austin regional, consisting of No. 2 national seed Texas, Arizona State, Fairfield and Southern.