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This Week in ‘Canes Baseball: April 3rd Edition

Miami plays its’ biggest rival this weekend after wrapping up the season series against FAU.

Credit: Miami Athletics

The Miami Hurricanes enter this week at 18-10 (5-7 ACC) after a 3-1 week that saw them narrowly miss a sweep of the Pittsburgh Panthers. Miami’s pitching staff will hope to rebound after an extremely difficult week that saw them allow 24 runs to a Pitt team that had been batting just .245 heading into the weekend.

Miami is fourth in the ACC Coastal Division heading into this weekend. The ‘Canes are just one game behind Virginia for third, and are two games behind North Carolina and Georgia Tech who are tied for the division lead at 7-5 in the conference.

The Hurricanes will hope to use an offense that ranks among the ACC’s best to find success throughout the week ahead and the second half of the season as a whole. Miami leads the conference in batting average, batting at a tremendous .299 through 28 games. Miami is in the top five of multiple offensive categories in addition to batting average; runs (4th), hits (3rd), home runs (3rd), RBI (4th), total bases (3rd), slugging percentage (2nd), and on-base percentage (4th).

Miami’s improvements in offense as compared to last season have helped mitigate the damage that’s been allowed by a pitching staff that ranks seventh in the ACC in ERA, with 4.10 earned runs allowed per nine innings. Hurricanes pitchers have struggled with control and limiting base hits over the last several weeks and its’ cost them several games that they shouldn’t have lost.

A return to form for the pitching staff would be a huge boost this week. Miami plays a challenging week against an FAU team that has been on a great run of play as of late and a Florida State Seminoles club that will hope to give Mike Martin a series win over Miami in his final trip to Coral Gables.

Mid-Week Game: Vs Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic is 19-9 this season, with an incredible 8-1 record in the Conference USA. Despite a mid-week loss to Miami last week the Owls swept in-state rival FIU last weekend and will hope to transfer that momentum to Mark Light Field. This game wraps up the season series between the Owls and Hurricanes, which Miami leads 2-0.

Freshman Slade Cecconi will take the mound for the Hurricanes on Wednesday. The hard-throwing youngster has showed a lot of potential for the ‘Canes on the mound this season, and has continued to impress over his first several starts in the orange and green. The matchup for Cecconi won’t be easy, as he’ll face Jon Jon Kostantis, who is 2-0 with a microscopic 1.96 ERA for the Owls this season.

Francisco Urbaez continues to lead the Owls with a balanced approach at the plate. Urbaez has six home runs and a .354 average, and has appeared in all but one of FAU’s 28 games this season. Additionally, Pedro Pages has continued to be a force both at the plate and behind it for the Owls this season. Pages is batting .320 this year, and is extremely difficult to attempt to steal a base on, which will present a challenge for the aggressive baserunners of Miami.

A season sweep of the Owls would be a huge boost for a Hurricanes team that has struggled against FAU in recent years. Florida Atlantic is one of the most talented teams in their conference, and their recent run of form has led to them receiving votes in three national polls. A win, and season sweep, would be an extremely valuable boost to Miami’s hopes to get into the NCAA Tournament in a region they can realistically compete in.

Prediction: Miami beats FAU, 5-2.

Game Info

Date & Time: Wednesday, April 3rd, 6:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Slade Cecconi (4-1, 3.63 ERA)

FAU Starter: Jon Jon Kostantis (2-0, 1.96 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra

Weekend Series: Vs Florida State Seminoles

The Florida State Seminoles come to Coral Gables this weekend with an 18-10 record that has caused many in Tallahassee to question where the preseason promise for this Seminoles team has gone. FSU dropped out of several of the national rankings this week after an upset home series loss to the Boston College Eagles this weekend.

Similarly to Miami, FSU pitching, which was supposed to be the strength of the team, has struggled in 2019. CJ Van Eyk, who was considered to be one of the best pitchers in the ACC heading into the season, has a 4.54 ERA on the year. Fellow rotation member Drew Parrish, who was also surrounded by hype ahead of the season, has fared even worse, with a 5.94 ERA. However, Sunday starter Shane Drohan has had a fantastic first half of 2019, with a 2-0 record and 1.67 ERA.

The struggles for FSU aren’t limited to the pitching staff, the Seminoles are batting just .254 through 28 games, which is third to last in the ACC. However, FSU stays competitive by hitting the ball hard when they do put the bat on it, with 37 home runs as a team, which is tied for first in the ACC with the Hurricanes and the N.C. State Wolfpack.

Freshman outfielder Robby Martin has been a revelation for FSU, and he’s trying to match Miami’s Adrian Del Castillo in production in the race to be the ACC Freshman of the Year. Martin leads the team in RBI with 29 on the year, and the Hurricanes need to watch out for him all weekend. Another threat in the FSU lineup is Drew Mendoza, who has eight home runs on the season. Mendoza always seems to bring his best against the Hurricanes, and the junior has plenty of pop in his bat.

Meanwhile, Miami brings a plethora of offensive talent to the table. Six regular starters for Miami are batting over .300, and all of them have shown power in their bats in the first half of 2019. Alex Toral has 12 home runs already this year, and has the potential to eclipse Miami’s team home run total from 2018 of 23 on his own this season.

The pitching rotation has struggled as of late for the Hurricanes. However, last season Evan McKendry pitched a gem to get Miami’s lone win against the Seminoles, and he’ll hope to recapture that on the mound against a familiar foe Friday. Sunday starter Brian Van Belle has been tremendous for the Hurricanes this season, and the matchup between him and Shane Drohan could be fun to watch on Sunday afternoon.

Mike Martin will come to Coral Gables one last time this weekend, and Miami will hope to send him home with his second consecutive ACC series loss. The ‘Canes haven’t won the season series against FSU since 2016, and they’ll hope to take advantage of a massive opportunity this weekend.

Prediction: Miami takes the series, 2-1.

Series Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, April 5th, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (4-1, 4.57 ERA)

FSU Starter: Drew Parrish (3-2, 5.94 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 2

Date & Time: Saturday, April 6th, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Chris McMahon (1-2, 5.40 ERA)

FSU Starter: CJ Van Eyk (3-2, 4.54 ERA)

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 3

Date & Time: Sunday, April 7th, 1:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Brian Van Belle (4-2, 3.23 ERA)

FSU Starter: Shane Drohan (2-0, 1.67 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM / 990 ESPN DEPORTES

Television: ACC Network Extra