The Miami Hurricanes need to make a run in the ACC Tournament. The ‘Canes are 27-25 (16-13 ACC) on the season, and they’ll need to win at least three games in Durham, N.C. to have any chance at an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.
That means making the championship game, and to get there Miami will first have to go through two opponents, Notre Dame and No.5 Clemson, in the round-robin part of the tournament. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, they’re a combined 4-2 against their group members.
Miami will first face off against Notre Dame. The ‘Canes will come into the game hoping to get a good performance out of ACC All-Freshman team shortstop Freddy Zamora, who just received those honors before postseason play began...
As for the pitching, Miami will send Andrew Cabezas to the mound against Notre Dame, presumably to save ACC Pitcher of the Week Jeb Bargfeldt and All-ACC Third-Team Selection Evan McKendry for later games in the Tournament. Whether that be for the game against a very talented Clemson team, or if the Hurricanes perform well, a semifinal game.
Cabezas struggled in his previous outing against Notre Dame this season. At that time still in the bullpen, the righty allowed four runs and earned a loss that allowed UND to win a game in a series Miami very well could’ve swept. He’ll need to forget that heading into a very important game Tuesday. The Hurricanes absolutely need one of Cabezas’ better performances, as it’d be nearly impossible for them to earn a spot in a semifinal without going 2-0 in round-robin play.
On the brighter side, Cabezas has experience in the ACC Tournament. Some may remember his astounding performance against Georgia Tech last year, when he worked 6.1 innings of no hit, ten strikeout baseball. If he can repeat that tomorrow, the ‘Canes should be in good shape to start the postseason with a victory.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame will send left-hander Scott Tully to the mound. At 5-1 on the season, Tully holds an impressive record, but his ERA, at 4.40, is mediocre, which is encouraging for the ‘Canes. Miami will hope to pounce on the Irish’s starter early and get into a bullpen that has struggled mightily on the season for the boys from South Bend. Notre Dame has just one bullpen pitcher with an ERA under four on the season, and if Miami can take advantage of their oppurtunities early, it could be a long evening for Notre Dame fans.
At the plate things between the Irish and the ‘Canes are somewhat similar. However, there’s one notable difference, Notre Dame hits for more power than Miami, but the Hurricanes are considerably better on the basepaths. It’s easy to look at the season averages for both teams and point to Notre Dame as a more obvious offensive threat, but Miami has come on strong at the end of the season. It seems as if every player has hit their stride offensively, and the ‘Canes find a way to reach base consistently, and advance and score once they get there.
The Hurricanes also have a distinct advantage in the bullpen, with four pitchers with an ERA under four, including Greg Veliz, who recently returned from injury. If Cabezas labors on the mound Miami has several options to go to, something that can’t be said for the Irish.
With all that being said, postseason baseball is always unpredictable. The games are often tightly played and hard fought. Don’t expect either team to get anything easy. It’ll be a challenge for Miami to continue their win streak, and they’ll need to perform like they have in the last few weeks to set up a crucial matchup with Clemson Thursday.
Prediction: Miami 6, Notre Dame 4
Date & Time: Tuesday, May 22, 7:00 PM
Hurricanes Starter: Andrew Cabezas (6-4, 4.12 ERA)
Notre Dame Starter: Scott Tully (5-1, 4.40 ERA)
Television: RSN in ACC regional areas (Your local sports networks, Fox Sports Sun or Florida for most) ACC Network Extra out of market (blackouts apply).
Radio: 790 The Ticket & WVUM 90.5 FM