The Miami Hurricanes baseball season gets underway on Friday afternoon, when the Hurricanes begin their season against the No.1 Florida Gators in the first of one of many important series for the Hurricanes this season.
Miami faces one of their toughest schedules in recent memory in 2021. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play every team in the ACC besides Notre Dame this season, and along with playing Florida in non-conference play, the Hurricanes also play mid-week games against quality opponents in FAU, FIU, and FGCU.
The Hurricanes have several important weekends ahead of them, here are a few of the most significant:
February 19-21: @ No.1 Florida Gators
The Florida Gators are the consensus No.1 team in the country heading into this season, and Kevin O’Sullivan has one of the best teams of his career so far in Gainesville. The Gators are the SEC preseason favorite, and pitchers Tommy Mace and Ben Specht make up a formidable pitching staff that will challenge Miami’s talented lineup.
On offense the Gators are just as talented, with preseason All-SEC selection Josh Rivera leading a terrific lineup. Florida, like many teams in college baseball, is extremely experienced this year after a shortened draft, and players like Mace, who would have been expected to depart after last season, have made this one of the most complete rosters in college baseball.
Miami hasn’t won a series against Florida since 2014 and they’ll face a tough challenge in winning this series this season. The Hurricanes’ new starting rotation, most likely led by Daniel Federman, will have to settle in quickly ahead of this tough first weekend matchup.
March 5-7: @ No.13 NC State Wolfpack
Miami faces their second road trip to a ranked opponent in just the third weekend of the season when they travel to play the NC State Wolfpack in the first weekend of March. The Wolfpack are expected to be one of the ACC’s best teams this season, and were picked to finish second in the ACC Atlantic division behind Louisville.
Tyler McDonough is looking to lead the Wolfpack after being named a freshman All-American in 2019. The sophomore is a preseason All-American and should be one of the best players in the conference this season. He’s joined on the preseason All-American team by Jose Torres, who was named a freshman All-American after last year’s shortened season.
The ACC is an extremely deep conference this season, but NC State is one of its’ best teams. This will be another tough test for the Hurricanes early in the season. This series wraps up a stretch of six road games over Miami’s first nine games of the season, and how the Hurricanes handle that early stretch could determine the trajectory of the first half of the 2021 season for Miami.
March 12-14: Vs No.17 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest has been one of the most improved teams in the ACC over the last several seasons, and heading into this season they could be a contender to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament. The 17th ranked Demon Deacons are picked to finish fifth in the ACC Atlantic division, which shows the depth and quality of teams the conference has in 2021.
Junior Bobby Seymour is the leader of the team and one of the best players in the ACC. He had a .377 average and nine home runs in the last full season of college baseball in 2019. He, along with fellow preseason All-American Ryan Cusick, set up Wake Forest to have the talent to compete with some of the conference’s best teams. Chris Lanzilli will help as well, as the power hitter had 16 home runs in 2019 and 6 in last year’s shortened season. He could compete against Alex Toral for the ACC’s home run title.
This series comes in the middle of what might be one of the toughest stretches of the Hurricanes’ season. It will be Miami’s first opportunity to get big wins at home, and presents the Hurricanes with an opportunity to regroup if they struggle in the two difficult road series that come in the first three weeks of the season.
March 19-21: Vs No.24 Florida State Seminoles
Florida State remains in a period of transition following the departure of longtime Head Coach Mike Martin. New Head Coach Mike Martin, Jr. had his first season in charge cut short due to the pandemic, but he enters this season with a team that will be able to compete from week-to-week in the ACC this season.
Robby and Tyler Martin return after surprising as the Seminoles two best offensive performers last season. Experienced sophomore Elijah Cabell also returns for the Seminoles this season and he should be a quality contributor. FSU faces replacing their entire pitching staff, much like Miami, but there is enough quality and experience on the roster for the Seminoles to have success this season.
This will always be one of the biggest matchups on the Hurricanes schedule no matter the quality of either team. However, this year the series should matchup two competitors for the ACC title.
March 26-28: @ No.16 Virginia Cavaliers
Miami wraps up March and their toughest stretch of the season with one of their toughest competitors for the ACC Coastal Division title. UVA is again one of the best teams in the country and this will be one of the toughest series of the season for the Hurricanes.
Virginia was picked to finish second in the ACC Coastal behind Miami ahead of the season by the ACC’s coaches, and that’s because they are one of the most talented teams in the country. Preseason Second-Team All-American Chris Newell is hoping to take the next step this season into becoming a top-five player in the ACC. In addition, Nic Kent will anchor one of the best and most experienced infields in the conference.
This is one of Miami’s most important series and probably one of their toughest matchups. It will be an extremely difficult task for the Hurricanes to go on the road to face UVA, and both teams will know that this series will have a massive impact on each team’s season. The Cavaliers are experienced and talented and could easily be a top-ten team by the end of the season.
May 14-16: Vs No.15 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech is another team that is well positioned to compete with Miami for the ACC Coastal Division title. The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish third in the division by the ACC’s coaches ahead of the season and rank in the Top 25 of almost every major poll.
The Yellow Jackets will be led this season by Luke Waddell, an experienced shortstop and preseason All-American. Georgia Tech also introduces a solid recruiting class this season that includes the nation’s sixth ranked prospect, Kevin Parada, and 33rd ranked prospect, Jake DeLeo, in the country according to Perfect Game. Georgia Tech also returns two thirds of its’ starting rotation, which should set the program up nicely to have a great season in 2021.
Much like Miami’s series against Virginia earlier in the season, this series will be massively important in the race for the division title. Georgia Tech is an extremely good team with a nice combination of experience and young talent, and they will compete to win the ACC and host a regional in the NCAA Tournament.
May 20-22: @ No.5 Louisville Cardinals
One of Miami’s toughest series of the regular season is also scheduled to be its’ last. The Louisville Cardinals are again poised to be one of the best teams in the country in 2021. Louisville is both the Atlantic Division and overall favorite in the ACC ahead of the season and they boast one of the deepest and most talented rosters in college baseball.
A trio of All-Americans in Henry Davis, Alex Binelas, and Levi Usher are three of the best players in the country. Davis, in particular, is one of the best catchers in the country, and he could compete with Miami’s Adrian Del Castillo for ACC Player of the Year. The Cardinals are deep at the plate and on the mound and Head Coach Dan McDonnell has the program in a good position to pursue another trip to Omaha this summer.
Miami’s series vs Florida will set the tone for the early part of the Hurricanes’ season, but this series could end up being the Hurricanes most important. There’s a chance that this weekend could determine the outcome of the ACC’s regular season title, and the series could have a big impact on Miami’s seeding at the ACC Tournament.
The Hurricanes face one of the toughest schedules in the country in 2021 as they are scheduled to face seven teams ranked in the preseason. Miami opens the season Friday, February 19th at 3:00 p.m. against the No.1 Florida Gators.