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This Week in Hurricanes Baseball: February 26 Edition

Miami has an easy week after a tough weekend.

Credit: Miami Athletics

The Miami Hurricanes enter this week at 5-2. Miami will hope to use this week to start piling up the out-of-conference wins against an easier schedule before starting a very difficult conference slate.

Miami’s goal needs to be to go 4-0 this week. None of the teams UM will face this week are remotely on the Hurricanes level of talent, and the ‘Canes need to take advantage. In the “easiest” week of the schedule last year, when Miami played FAU and Maine, the Hurricanes went just 2-2. That isn’t good enough this year.

Mid-Week Game: At FIU Panthers (3-3)

Miami plays their first road mid-week game of the season on Wednesday, facing off against a Florida International team that has struggled to start the season. As has been stated several times, the mid-week games are crucial for Miami, and this is one the Hurricanes have no business losing.

Franco Aleman seems set to get the start for the Panthers on Wednesday. He got the start in FIU’s win against Bethune-Cookman last week, his first ever start for the Panthers, and pitched well. He allowed just one run over four innings, but didn’t pitch long enough into the game to earn the win.

At the plate FIU is led by Lorenzo Hampton, Jr. who’s batting average stands at an incredible .500 through six games. The senior has power in addition to making contact, with a home run and five doubles already so far. On the whole, FIU has four batters that have a batting average over .400 this season; including Adan Fernandez, who already has two home runs on the year.

That offensive talent will present a challenge for Slade Cecconi to handle in his second start for the Hurricanes. Against FAU last week Cecconi put together a marvelous first start, allowing just four hits and two earned runs over a five inning performance that earned him his first career win. Miami will hope they can get similar starts out of Cecconi all year. Performance on that level would provide a huge boost for Miami throughout the season.

This is a game the Hurricanes should expect to win on the road. Going away from home in the middle of the week is never easy, but games like this will be the difference between Miami improving on last season’s record or having another disappointing season.

Prediction: Miami wins 6-2.

Game Info:

Date & Time: Wednesday, February 27, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Slade Cecconi (1-0, 2.57 ERA)

FIU Starter: Franco Aleman (0-0, 2.25 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ESPN+ (With subscription)

Weekend Series: Vs. UMBC Retrievers (2-1)

Many may remember UMBC as the team that knocked off the Virginia Cavaliers in the NCAA Basketball Tournament last year to become the first ever 16-seed to defeat a No.1 seed in tournament history. However, their baseball team is what Miami will focus on this weekend when the Retrievers come to Mark Light Field for a three-game set.

UMBC won the America East in 2017, but had a down year last season, going just 22-29 in 2018. So far UMBC is 2-1 to start the year, after winning a season-opening series against UNC Asheville over this past weekend.

Frank Fraschetti serves as the ace of the UMBC pitching staff, he’s joined by Aaron Husson and Nick Trabacchi in the weekend rotation. Fraschetti and Trabacchi both pitched well over the Retrievers’ first weekend. In fact on Sunday, when Trabacchi started, UMBC won in a 12-0 shutout that displayed some of the talent that the Retrievers have in their rotation and in their bullpen.

At the plate the Retrievers are led by Ethan Wentzlaff, a freshman who’s 5 for 9 with a double and a home run through the first three games of his career. Additionally, Miami will have to keep an eye out for Terrence Pinkston and Christian Torres who are slugging at a .700 and .917 percentage so far this season respectively.

Meanwhile, Miami will hope to use this series as a tune-up before ACC play begins. The Hurricanes need to take advantage of their offensive opportunities more often, and they should have plenty, especially when you consider that UMBC allowed 17 runs in the second game of their series last week. The Hurricanes offense can put the bat on the ball and get on base, but it’s time to start driving in runners on a consistent basis.

If there’s one thing Miami did last weekend it was to establish a strong starting rotation. Evan McKendry, Chris McMahon, and Brian Van Belle all put together great starts for the Hurricanes and proved that they deserve to start on the weekends for the University of Miami. The Hurricanes will hope they bring their best stuff this series just as they did last weekend.

Another important goal for this weekend is to establish roles in the bullpen for Miami. The series against Florida exposed a weakness in the bullpen for the Hurricanes that must be addressed. With a less challenging opponent like UMBC coming to Alex Rodriguez Park this weekend, it’s a good opportunity for Miami to gain an understanding of who the most trusted arms out of the bullpen should be.

Ultimately, this series should serve as a tune-up for Miami ahead of conference play. The Hurricanes have more talent than the Retrievers in every facet of the game, and it should show on the field this weekend. Anything less than a sweep would be a disappointment.

Prediction: Miami sweeps the series 3-0.

Series Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, March 1, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (2-0, 2.77 ERA)

UMBC Starter: Frank Fraschetti (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 2

Date & Time: Saturday, March 2, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Chris McMahon (1-0, 2.31 ERA)

UMBC Starter: Aaron Husson (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 3

Date & Time: Sunday, March 3, 1:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Brian Van Belle (1-1, 1.50 ERA)

UMBC Starter: Nick Trabacchi (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: ACC Network Extra