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This Week in ‘Canes Baseball: March 27 Edition

The Hurricanes have a more relaxing, but still challenging, week coming up.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs Miami Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes enter this week with a lot of momentum, coming off a weekend sweep that pushed the Hurricanes to 12-11 (6-3 ACC) on the season. The sweep also meant that the Hurricanes have gotten themselves into a tie with the Duke Blue Devils for first in the ACC Coastal Division.

This week should be a bit easier for the Hurricanes, but there is a bit of a curveball being thrown Miami’s way. For the first time this season the Hurricanes will play two games in the midweek. The ‘Canes will play an exhibition game vs the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, before taking on the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Wednesday. After that, the Hurricanes wrap up the week with an ACC series against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. A series win on the road could give Miami an important division lead early in the season.

Tuesday’s game against the Marlins could be an important tune-up for the Hurricanes. It’s a chance to put some of the struggling bats in the lineup, most notably Alex Toral. I’d assume that the Hurricanes won’t play many of their best players in an effort to keep them rested. I’d especially like to see Isaac Quinones get a break at Marlins Park, he’s started every game since Michael Amditis’ injury, and he needs to get some rest before another set of four important games.

The Hurricanes have started to gain a lot of momentum in the past few weeks, and most of that is due to their pitching staff. Most notably Evan McKendry, who earned his third ACC Pitcher of the Week honor after his great performance in his start Saturday:

This week should be a less challenging week on paper, but Miami still has to prove that last week’s turnaround wasn’t a fluke.

Mid-Week Game: @ FGCU

The Hurricanes have a very interesting mid-week game this week. Florida Gulf Coast sits at 18-5 on the season, but the Eagles haven’t been as dominant as they were at the start of last season. That being said they’re considering this one of their biggest games of the season. Even going so far as to have a countdown clock on their athletic’s department website.

Bryan Wilcox is the normal mid-week starter for FGCU, and as far as I know so far he will be the starter for the Eagles on Wednesday. He’s sitting at 2-1 on the season, with an 8.53 ERA. FGCU will need a big performance from him on Wednesday to give them a chance against the Hurricanes.

At the plate the Eagles are paced by senior Gage Morey. Morey has started all 22 games for FGCU this season, and has posted a solid .388 average. However, Morey doesn’t supply the power in the lineup, as the Eagles look to sophomore Kohl Gilmore to be the slugger. Gilmore leads the team with seven homeruns on the season, which is as many as Miami’s whole team as had in the entirety of the season.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes will need another big performance from freshman Daniel Federman against the Eagles. Federman has pitched extremely well for the Hurricanes so far this season, and he was robbed of a win against the FAU Owls last Wednesday. The Owls came back in the ninth inning to shock the Hurricanes, but it may have been what got the Hurricanes going last week. Miami really needs to start becoming consistent in the mid-week games, and they can’t have the embarrassing defeats like the one they suffered last Wednesday. Miami will go into a hostile environment in Swanson Stadium Wednesday, and they need to use their talent and confidence to pull out a win.

Prediction: Miami 5, FGCU, 4

Game Info

Date & Time: Wednesday, March 28, 6:30 PM

Hurricanes Starter: Daniel Federman (1-1, 1.95 ERA)

FGCU Starter: Bryan Wilcox (2-1, 8.53 ERA)

Television: None

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Weekend Series: @ Georgia Tech

The Hurricanes have an important weekend series in the ACC coming up. Georgia Tech is a struggling team in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets are 13-11 on the season, but are just 3-6 in the ACC. They’ve only won one ACC series so far this season, and despite being second in the ACC in batting average, they struggle to find a consistently solid game.

Miami has had just the opposite fortune in ACC play. The ‘Canes have started to hit their stride so far in the conference series, and it was even more encouraging to see them sweep Virginia last weekend. They seemed to have really turned the corner, and if they can start stringing hits together more frequently the Hurricanes can reach a new level of play as we get deeper into the ACC season.

A lot of this improvement has come from the play of Isaac Quinones. In the 15 games he’s started since the injury to Michael Amditis, Quinones is batting at a .392 average. He’s Miami’s best player at the plate and in the field, and he’s been huge for the Hurricanes so far this season. In addition, Hunter Tackett has been a revelation since entering the lineup around twelve games ago, Tackett is batting at a strong .333 clip, and he consistently finds a way to get on base. Last weekend the Hurricanes also started to get an increased contribution from junior Romy Gonzalez. Gonzalez started the season extremely cold, but after catching a few lucky breaks against UVA he’ll look to keep his momentum at the plate going into next week.

Georgia Tech is one of the most formidable offensive teams in the ACC, and they come in at second in the conference in batting average. In addition the Yellow Jackets have belted 31 homeruns on the season, which will give the Hurricanes pitching staff a lot to worry about this weekend.

While the Jackets are very strong at the plate, they have some struggles in the pitching staff. While GT has hit 31 homers, they’ve also allowed 24 on the season, as compared to the 11 Miami has allowed on the season. Additionally, GT has allowed 10 or more runs in five games this season, but they make up for it by putting up crooked numbers on offense.

This will easily be Miami’s pitching staff’s biggest test of the season. They face one of the best offensive teams in the nation, and while Miami has been consistent on the mound all season they’ll need big performances to quiet the bats of the Yellow Jackets. In addition the bullpen needs to give the Hurricanes solid innings all weekend, they can’t suffer from the inconsistency that has been a problem all season.

This will be an interesting series, one of the ACC’s best pitching staffs faces one of the ACC’s best offenses. Miami will need improved defense and good pitching to get a series win this weekend, but if they can pull it off they may find themselves on top of the Coastal Division.

Prediction: Miami wins series 2-1.

Game Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, March 30, 6:00 PM

Hurricanes Starter: Jeb Bargfeldt (2-2, 2.95 ERA)

Georgia Tech Starter: Xzavion Curry (5-0, 3.09 ERA)

Television: ACC Network Extra

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Game 2

Date & Time: Saturday, March 31, 4:00 PM

Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (4-2, 2.04 ERA)

Georgia Tech Starter: Connor Thomas (2-3, 4.15 ERA)

Television: ACC Network Extra

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Game 3

Date & Time: Sunday, April 1, 1:00 PM

Hurricanes Starter: Andrew Cabezas (2-2, 3.24 ERA)

Georgia Tech Starter: Tristin English (0-0, 4.20 ERA)

Television: ACC Network Extra

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM