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This Week in ‘Canes Baseball: May 8th Edition

The Hurricanes continue their pursuit of a Top 16 seed this week.

Credit: Miami Athletics

Miami enters the week with a 34-14 (14-10 ACC) record looking to continue their pursuit of a Top 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes were projected as a host by both D1 Baseball and Baseball America last week, and Miami has steadily risen in all of the Top 25 polls over the last few weeks.

The Hurricanes are ranked No.19 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, No.20 in the D1 Baseball Top 25, No.18 in both Baseball America’s and Perfect Game’s Top 25, No.22 in Collegiate Baseball’s Top 25, and No.17 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 25. Miami has a chance to move even higher up in the rankings with two important ACC series left on the schedule.

However, these series won’t be easy, as the ‘Canes have had to deal with multiple injuries over the last several weeks. Friday and Saturday starters Evan McKendry and Chris McMahon have both missed multiple starts over the last few weeks. According to Gino DiMare Chris McMahon has begun a throwing program and is expected to start on Monday night against Wake Forest. McMahon would be on a pitch count in that start. Meanwhile, Evan McKendry is scheduled to throw a bullpen session while the team is on the road this weekend at Wake Forest, and is eyeing a possible return on May 17th against Duke. Both of these expectations assume neither pitcher will have a setback in their recovery. The Hurricanes desperately need four true starters heading into the ACC Tournament, and the hope would be to have McMahon or McKendry, or both, back with no pitch count limitations heading to Durham.

Meanwhile in the field, Freddy Zamora continues to work back towards full health after suffering from a shoulder issue that has required him to miss several games. Zamora began light swinging last Sunday, but there is no clear timetable for his return set by Gino DiMare. The Hurricanes are thin in the infield, with Tyler Paige only available as an “emergency option” as he works back from his own injury. In the outfield, Dylan Cloonan, who had emerged as Miami’s third outfielder, has been suffering with injury issues of his own and hasn’t begun swinging according to Coach DiMare. Cloonan has been doing fielding work despite his injury.

With several starters injured, there were questions about the starting rotation in the last few games of the season. Josh White reported Miami’s projected starters in their remaining regular season games yesterday:

My assumption is that because Chris McMahon is only scheduled for the Monday start against Wake Forest and no other outings, he would be the first pitcher Miami would use in the ACC Tournament. It would make sense; if Miami starts tournament play on Tuesday McMahon would have eight days of rest, which is one day more than normal, as opposed to having him start on short rest against Duke when returning from injury.

Mid-Week Game: Vs UCF Knights

Albert Maury, Jr. will get the start for the Hurricanes against a strong UCF team coached by former Miami standout Greg Lovelady. Lovelady’s Knights are 30-19 (9-12 AAC) on the season and are unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament barring an incredible run to end the season.

UCF comes into the game on a three game win streak, after winning both Saturday and Sunday against Tulane and beating Bethune-Cookman, who Miami swept last weekend, Tuesday. Miami brings a winning streak of their own into the game, having won seven games in a row dating back to April 24th.

Albert Maury will look to navigate a Knights lineup that includes four batters batting over .300 on the season. UCF’s most dangerous hitter is first baseman Dallas Beaver, who leads the team in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage this season. However, the entire group of players batting above .300 are dangerous, they have combined for 31 home runs this season, along with 134 RBIs and 51 doubles.

Maury, meanwhile, has struggled this season, with a 6.52 ERA on the year. The redshirt sophomore will hope to limit the run scoring by UCF and allow one of the best offenses in the ACC and country to go to work against the Knights.

The mid-week games have proved crucial to Miami’s success, or lack thereof, over the last two seasons. This year this final mid-week game will help determine whether the ‘Canes stay home or travel the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The ‘Canes must execute on Wednesday night.

Prediction: Miami wins, 6-4.

Game Info

Date & Time: Wednesday, May 8, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Albert Maury, Jr. (1-0, 6.52 ERA)

UCF Starter: Not announced

Radio: 790 The Ticket

Television: ACC Network Extra

Weekend Series: At Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Miami will travel to Winston-Salem to face a Wake Forest team that has struggled to live up to the preseason hype that surrounded them. The Demon Deacons are just 28-20 (12-12 ACC) on the season. However, fortunately for Wake Forest, they enter this weekend well rested and ready to go for a crucial ACC series for both teams, as they’ve played just one game in the last week after taking a week off for exams.

Wake Forest has a talented offense, one that hits for the fourth highest batting average in the ACC. That offense has been let down by a pitching staff that has struggled throughout the entire year, combining for an ACC-worst 5.90 ERA. The Demon Deacons pitchers also allow the third most walks in the ACC and are tied with Georgia Tech for most home runs allowed on the season.

Those Wake Forest pitchers will have to face a surging Miami offense that scored 34 runs in last weekend’s series against Bethune-Cookman. Freshman Adrian Del Castillo continues to lead the Hurricanes at the plate. Del Castillo’s 59 RBIs on the season rank third most in the entire ACC, and he also ranks in the Top 10 in the conference in batting average, hits, and doubles.

Unfortunately for Miami’s pitchers, the two batters ahead of Del Castillo in RBIs both play for Wake Forest. Bobby Seymour and Chris Lanzilli have driven in 77 and 60 runs respectively on the year. They do this by batting behind two hitters who bat over .340 on the season in Shane Muntz and Patrick Frick. The Demon Deacons also know how to drive the ball all over the field, with an ACC-leading 72 home runs on the season. Lanzilli, Seymour, Frick, and Muntz are four of the best hitters Miami will face all season. Lanzilli and Muntz have hit 28 home runs between the two of them, and all four of them can hit in any situation and know how to drive in runs. Wake Forest’s lineup may be the best one the Hurricanes have played against in 2019.

On the mound, Brian Van Belle will make his second Friday night start against Wake Forest’s Colin Peluse. Peluse has struggled this season, at just 3-6 with a with a 5.37 ERA. Saturday will see a battle between Slade Cecconi and Wake Forest starter Jared Shuster. Shuster has fared even worse in terms of ERA as compared with Peluse, at 6.34 on the season, but has managed to stay above .500 on the year with a 4-3 record. He also has a talent for striking batters out, with 77 Ks on the season. Monday will see Chris McMahon oppose Ryan Cusick, who continues the trend of winning despite allowing several runs, with a 6-3 record despite a 6.43 ERA.

The weekend follows a bit of an abnormal schedule, with a game on Friday and Saturday, a day off Sunday, and a nationally televised game on ESPNU Monday. Miami will need to adapt as they can’t afford a series loss as they look to strengthen their resume ahead of the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.

Prediction: Miami wins series, 2-1.

Series Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, May 10, 6:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Brian Van Belle (7-2, 3.25 ERA)

Wake Forest Starter: Colin Peluse (3-6, 5.37 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 2

Date & Time: Saturday, May 11, 4:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Slade Cecconi (5-3, 4.10 ERA)

Wake Forest Starter: Jared Shuster (4-3, 6.34 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 3

Date & Time: Monday, May 13, 7:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Chris McMahon (2-2, 4.10 ERA)

Wake Forest Starter: Ryan Cusick (6-3, 6.43 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ESPNU