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This Week in ‘Canes Baseball: May 16th Edition

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There’s a lot on the line for the Hurricanes this week.

Credit: Miami Athletics

Miami enters the last week of the 2019 regular season with a lot on the line; a chance to win the ACC Coastal Division and a chance to host in the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes sit one game back from Georgia Tech for first place in the Coastal Division, and will need to at least win, and probably sweep, their series against Duke this weekend to have a chance to win the division. As far as Miami’s chances to host, the Hurricanes control their own destiny, if the ‘Canes win their series this weekend and 1-2 games in the ACC Tournament the committee would almost certainly see them as one of the Top 16 teams in the country.

The Hurricanes impressed several outlets and poll voters with their road series win against a solid Wake Forest team last weekend, and it resulted in the Hurricanes being ranked in the Top 15 for the first time since 2016.

(Note: This tweet is from Monday night, the Hurricanes do not play on ESPN U tonight)


Weekend Series: Vs Duke Blue Devils

Duke is a team that is looking to strengthen their resume in the final week of the season. The Blue Devils have been hampered by injuries, specifically the season-ending injury of ace Graeme Stinson. Stinson was almost a guaranteed win for the Blue Devils every time he took the mound, and Duke has struggled to find a replacement for his production ever since his injury in mid-March.

The Blue Devils sit at 49th in the RPI and are one game over .500 in conference play heading into this weekend. If Duke manages to steal this series from Miami they could boost their RPI significantly and lock up a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils are projected to be in the field of 64 as of right now, but things can change quickly on the bubble, and they can ill afford to miss any opportunity to impress the selection committee.

Statistically, Duke is about exactly what you’d expect from a middle of the road ACC team, they sit in the middle of the conference in offense and defense. Despite not doing anything outstandingly well the Blue Devils are solid in every facet of the game. They don’t have very many strengths, but they also don’t have a lot of obvious weaknesses.

On the field, Duke is led by Kennie Taylor. Taylor is a senior outfielder who does just about everything for the Blue Devils. He leads the team in batting average, has a .992 fielding percentage, and is second on the team in RBIs and tied for second in home runs. Another bat to watch out for is that of slugger Michael Rothenberg. Rothenberg leads the team in home runs and RBI and provides the middle of the lineup power for the Blue Devils.

On the mound the Blue Devils starting rotation is solid. Ben Gross, Graeme Stinson’s replacement as Friday night starter, is Duke’s best starting arm. He’s 6-4 on the season with a 4.08 ERA. He’ll match up against Brian Van Belle, who has emerged as a legitimate Friday night starter in the wake of injuries to Chris McMahon and Evan McKendry. After McMahon returned from injury against Wake Forest on Monday, it’ll be McKendry’s turn to return from injury on Friday. He’ll oppose Bill Chillari, a left handed pitcher who presents a bad match up for a left-handed heavy Hurricanes lineup that’s missing the key right-handed bat of Freddy Zamora in the middle of the order due to injury. On Saturday, Chris McMahon will make his second start since returning from injury, opposing Bryce Jarvis, who’s undefeated on the season, but holds a 4.53 ERA. McMahon impressed in a short, pitch-count limited, 2.2 inning performance in his return from injury. The sophomore hit 97 mph on the radar gun on Monday, and he’ll hope to recapture that velocity on Saturday in what will hopefully be a longer start.

Miami has everything they’ve set out to achieve within reach, and they have to perform well in one final series in order to reach the goals they set for the regular season. The stakes don’t get much higher for a weekend series, but hopefully this weekend will be the first set of a number of important games held at Mark Light Field in the coming weeks.

Prediction: Miami wins the series, 2-1.

Series Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Thursday, May 16, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Brian Van Belle (8-2, 3.20 ERA)

Duke Starter: Ben Gross (6-4, 4.08 ERA)

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 2

Date & Time: Friday, May 17, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Evan McKendry (6-1, 4.53 ERA)

Duke Starter: Bill Chillari (2-3, 5.09 ERA)

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 3

Date & Time: Saturday, May 18, 1:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Chris McMahon (2-2, 4.06 ERA)

Duke Starter: Bryce Jarvis (4-0, 4.53 ERA)

Radio: 790 The Ticket / 990 ESPN Deportes

Television: ACC Network Extra