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FAU 7, Miami 4: So Close, Yet So Far Away

Miami seemed to be playing better, but that hope has been shattered.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Miami vs UC Santa Barbara Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

In Jim Morris’ final season the Hurricanes are starting to fall apart. Miami is playing the worst baseball of Morris’ tenure, even worse than last year. After a series sweep of Virginia that left many, including myself, thinking the ‘Canes had turned a corner, Miami has completely collapsed, arguably performing worse than they did at the start of the season.

With the loss Miami drops to 12-16 (6-6 ACC) on the season. It’s the first time Miami has ever been swept by FAU in a season, and the first time the Owls have won the season series since 1984. Miami plays UNC and Clemson in the ACC over the next two weekends, both are extremely talented opponents. Plus, next week’s mid-week game is a huge challenge, as the Greg Lovelady led UCF Knights come to The Light. If Miami loses all of those games they would be 12-23, if they won one game in each series and the mid-week game, they’d be 15-20. Either way, they’d almost certainly find themselves out of the NCAA Tournament. If they are swept in both the ACC series they probably wouldn’t even make the ACC Tournament.

At this point, Miami baseball is on a path towards a season that is even worse than last year’s. I understand that the Hurricanes are a team that is full of youth and inexperience. However, I’ve never seen a Miami team struggle this much defensively. Youth doesn’t excuse taking plays off, youth doesn’t excuse not putting in the effort when the ball comes your way, youth does not excuse missing your backup position because you either don’t know what it is or don’t care what it is. In short, youth does not mean you get to be lazy, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to know defensive fundamentals that are taught endlessly from a young age.

At the plate Miami may be struggling even more. In the disastrous series against Georgia Tech last weekend each GT pitcher set their career strikeout record. Miami scored just six runs against one of the worst pitching staffs in the ACC. NC State scored 18 against the Yellow Jackets just one week before Miami’s series against the same team with the same pitchers. The Hurricanes get men on base, but an inability to put the ball in play in clutch situations sets Miami up to miss oppurtunities, and it happens far too often.

Miami seemed so confident against UVA in a series that now seems like it was ages ago. The pitching staff was dominant on the mound, the Hurricanes were solid at the plate. I really don’t know what has happened in the last few weeks. After what seemed like a momentum changing weekend sweep all Miami has done is relapsed into their bad habits.

Miami is looking at two consecutive years of not making the NCAA Tournament. There will be a change of coach next year, as Gino DiMare takes over the program. DiMare will need to totally change the culture of the program, the old standards of the past are no longer being met. The Hurricanes won championships with good pitching and even better defense, and neither of those qualities can be attributed to last year’s or this year’s team. These two years have been and are tough to watch, and things desperately need to change.

If Miami wants to turnaround this season it has to start this weekend, otherwise this season might as well be over.

Game Info

Winning Pitcher: Mark Nowatnick (2-2, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K)

Losing Pitcher: Daniel Federman (1-3, 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K)

Save: Zach Schneider (9)

Box Score:

Next Game

UNC Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, April 6, 7:00 PM

Hurricanes Starter: Jeb Bargfeldt (2-3, 3.63 ERA)

UNC Starter: Brett Daniels (4-0, 1.41 ERA)

Television: ACC Network Extra

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM