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This Week in ‘Canes Baseball: March 11 Edition

The Hurricanes have a challenging week ahead.

Credit: Miami Athletics

The Miami Hurricanes enter their fifth week of the season with an 11-4 (3-0 ACC) record. The ‘Canes had a great start to conference play last weekend, and sit first in the ACC’s Coastal Division heading into this week.

This week sees a road trip for the Hurricanes, with four road games, including a mid-week game against a Top-15 opponent and Miami’s first road conference series of the year.

The Hurricanes also continue to be strong in the polls. Miami is a top-10 team in all but Perfect Game’s Top 25 poll and will have an opportunity to improve that ranking with a few marquee series on the horizon over the next few weeks.

Two individual Hurricanes were also recognized over the last week. Ace Brian Van Belle was named NCBWA’s Pitcher of the Month for February. Then, on Monday afternoon Adrian Del Castillo was named to the Posey Award Watchlist.

Mid-week Game @ No.12 UCF Knights

Miami heads into one of their toughest games of the season so far on Wednesday night. UCF is an extremely talented team that is off to one of their best starts in recent memory coming in to their matchup with the Hurricanes.

The Knights have several impressive wins so far this season. UCF swept Auburn on the road in the second weekend of the year and have largely dominated the weaker opponents they’ve played so far. Former Hurricane Greg Lovelady has built a talented squad at UCF, and he’ll hope to take down his alma mater Wednesday night.

The ‘Canes, meanwhile, improved greatly at the plate last weekend. The Hurricanes had 18 hits in an offensive outburst Sunday afternoon, something they’ll hope to continue against UCF. Strong offense will be even more important Wednesday, since the Hurricanes have struggled to find consistent mid-week pitching so far this season.

At the plate the Knights are led by Jordan Rathbone. The senior is off to a hot start in 2020, with a .920 OPS, 3 HRs, and 17 RBIs through 17 starts. Overall, the Knights have been strong on offense as a team so far this season, with a .283 batting average and 16 home runs.

Miami’s bullpen, which pitched better against Pitt last weekend, will have to be solid in this challenging mid-week matchup to get the Hurricanes a big win. This will be an important challenge for a Miami squad that hasn’t really been tested since facing No.1 Florida in the second weekend of the season.

Game Info

Date & Time: Wednesday, March 11, 6:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Not announced

UCF Starter: Jaylyn Whitehead (1-0, 0.55 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: UCFKNIGHTS.TV

Weekend Series @ Virginia Tech Hokies

Miami enters the second week of conference play looking to strengthen their hold of first place in the ACC Coastal. The ‘Canes are the only team that remains undefeated in the division, and a solid weekend could give them a comfortable division lead through two weekends of conference play.

The Hokies are off to an up and down start in 2020. VT sits at 10-5 (1-2 ACC) on the year, and 7-0 at home, but they lost their first conference series of 2020 against Georgia Tech and took rough losses against San Diego State and UNC Greensboro early in the season.

Virginia Tech has been solid on both sides of the ball this season, sitting in the middle of the conference in both offense and pitching. The Hokies have the sixth best batting average in the conference, at .281, and the fifth best pitching staff, with a composite ERA of 3.05. Power is not VT’s game, but they do well at making contact and advancing runners to score runs.

Miami will give Virginia Tech’s offense their toughest challenge of their season yet. The Hurricanes have one of the best weekend rotations in the country, and a fantastic pitching staff in general. As a team, the ‘Canes are third-best in the ACC in ERA at 2.85. Friday starters Brian Van Belle and Chris McMahon have a 0.68 ERA and 1.05 ERA respectively through four starts.

The Hurricanes offense has lagged behind the pitching staff so far this season however. Miami will have to improve offensively to continue to compete this season. So far in 2020 the ‘Canes sit in the bottom half of the ACC in almost every statistical category, and the Hokies’ talented pitching staff will hope to limit the damage the Hurricanes offense can do.

Road conference series are never easy, especially not the first one of the year, but Miami will have to take advantage of what should be one of the easier weekends they’ll have in the ACC this season. After a 3-0 start in conference, the Hurricanes have a chance to take control of the Coastal Division this weekend before a stretch of difficult series begin in the coming weeks.

Series Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, March 13, 4:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Brian Van Belle (2-0, 0.68 ERA)

Virginia Tech Starter: Chris Gerard (1-1, 1.57 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra

Game 2

Date & Time: Saturday, March 14, 2:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Chris McMahon (3-0, 1.05 ERA)

Virginia Tech Starter: Anthony Simonelli (2-1, 2.95 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: Regional Sports Networks (Local Fox Sports affiliates)

Game 3

Date & Time: Sunday, March 15, 1:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Slade Cecconi (2-1, 3.80 ERA)

Virginia Tech Starter: Ian Seymour (3-0, 2.21 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: Regional Sports Networks (Local Fox Sports affiliates)