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Hurricanes baseball struggles in opener against Gators

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Let’s take a deeper look at the ‘Canes opening night loss.

Kent State at Miami David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Miami Hurricanes baseball is back for another season with Gino DiMare as the head coach. After toiling as an assistant coach for decades (1997-2008, 2012-2018), DiMare was given the nod heading into ‘19 after the retirement of Jim Morris. DiMare pushed the ‘Canes into the regional with a 41-20 (18-12 in the ACC) record in his first season, and Miami started hot in 2020 at 12-4 (3-0 in the ACC) before COVID canceled the season.

The Hurricanes are ranked 21st in the nation to start the 2021 season. If Miami wants to return to hosting a regional they’ll have to prove they can hit and pitch against the best. Miami lost 7-5 to open the ‘21 season, but that comeback was too little too late on Friday night.

The Gators are the top-rated team in the nation and it showed. Something about the UF roster is how similar the position players all look. They share a similar build to each other, like there’s a recruiting plan. Florida hitters are around six-foot to six-foot-two and 190-210 pounds. In a uniform, they look similar, swing the bats well, and have speed on the base paths.

The ‘Canes on the other hand are all over the table in the frame department. From 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds to the six-foot-one, 230 pound Alex Toral. Miami might be recruiting highly touted players but they don’t fit a mold. Alabama recruits to a mold in football, Florida apparently does in baseball.


Pitching

Daniel Federman hits his spots but does it really take a series of hand signals straight out of the Colors jail scene in order to tell a guy to stick a fastball directly over the plate on 0-0 count?

Federman and Jake Garland are hitting their spots but the Florida hitters pounded those spots. JD Arteaga, who calls the game from the dugout, needs to re-think his pitch placement against a team with this strong of batters.


Hitting

Miami didn’t get the bats going until the top of the 9th. Taking every first pitch put the ‘Canes behind the count, even after they’d seen (pitcher’s name) multiple times. Miami has taken every first pitch for 20 years and it’s about time to let guys swing at the first pitch strike the second time around in the order.


Fielding

Ah the over-shift. The bored baseball coach has to feel important. He shifts the second baseman to the other side of the bag. Alex Toral has no idea how to play this. His job has to be to play the ball and not the bag... because there’s no one between 1st and 2nd except for him. The pitcher should cover the bag. Toral goes to cover the bag and Florida gets one over on Miami’s shift.

Kind of reminds me of blitzing the safety from 15 yards away and the defensive backs not understanding how to play quarters coverage. A solid mix of bad in-game scheme and bad coaching during the lead up to the season. I get that baseball coaches are bored, especially when there’s a DH, but this is now over the top. Put in a pinch runner or something to keep yourself involved in the game.


Base running

Adrian Del Castillo kicks his butt when he sprints, which is a no-no, but for the most part Miami looks good while sprinting. The issue is outside of Yohandy Morales they’re slow. I’m not sure how The U is so slow at football and baseball, but there isn’t a whole lot of speed in Coral Gables, FL right now. At least not in-game speed.


Summary

It was just the first game and a first game against the best team in the country, but if Miami wants to host a regional and make the College World Series the ‘Canes are going to have to compete with Florida for nine full innings, not just two here and one there.

Florida has been a thorn in Miami’s side for a decade and the ‘Canes will have to knock off this Florida jinx in order to make it to Omaha.

Miami and Florida play again today (Saturday) at 1pm on the SEC+/ESPN3 gimmick.