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This Week in ‘Canes Baseball: February 24 Edition

Miami opens up ACC play this weekend against Virginia Tech.

Credit: Miami Athletics

The Miami Hurricanes come into the second week of the season with a 2-1 record after defeating the then No.1 Florida Gators last weekend in Gainesville. Over the past several days the Hurricanes have seen a significant rise in the polls. The Hurricanes were ranked as high as No.1 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, No.3 by Baseball America, No.3 by Perfect Game, No.5 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and moved all the way from No.21 to No.6 in D1Baseball’s poll.

Miami received recognition beyond moving up in the polls. Christian Del Castillo was named ACC co-Player of the Week after he had a fantastic series last weekend. Del Castillo was the Hurricanes best hitter over the weekend. The Seton Hall transfer had a .917 OPS and a .333 batting average over the weekend to go along with a team-high six RBI:

Miami had a strong performance from Christian Del Castillo but overall the Hurricanes struggled at the plate last weekend. Miami batted just .229 over the three-game series but walked 25 times as Florida’s pitchers struggled to throw strikes. Freshman Yohandy Morales was another bright spot for Miami as he had a double and a triple for the weekend. Miami will hope that Adrian Del Castillo warms up this weekend, as he batted just .231 over the Hurricanes’ first three games.

The Hurricanes pitching staff also has room for improvement after pitching to a 5.10 team-ERA last weekend. Starters Daniel Federman, Alejandro Rosario, and Victor Mederos all pitched better than their stats last weekend but bad defense throughout the weekend damaged Hurricanes pitching. Closer Carson Palmquist was fantastic in his first weekend in his new role pitching four innings of scoreless baseball while earning his first save.

This week the Hurricanes move into conference play with their first home series against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Weekend Series Vs Virginia Tech Hokies

Virginia Tech v Miami

Miami opens up conference play this weekend against Virginia Tech. The Hokies are projected to finish sixth in the ACC’s Coastal Division but are still a talented team. Virginia Tech is 3-0 so far this season after a two-game sweep of Kent State over the weekend and a 22-2 win over Radford on Tuesday night.

The Hokies are led by second-year freshman Gavin Cross who is batting .333 so far this season after being named a freshman All-American last year. Cross was one of the best freshmen in the ACC last season and he is poised to be the Hokies’ best player this year. Fellow freshman T.J. Rumfield has gotten out to a good start as well, with two homeruns in Virginia Tech’s most recent game against Radford.

Virginia Tech’s rotation is led by left-handed pitcher Chris Gerard. Gerard pitched against Miami the last time the two schools played each other in 2019. He pitched 5.1 innings against the Hurricanes and allowed just one run. He’s joined in the rotation by Anthony Simonelli and Ryan Okuda. Okuda has experience against Miami, having pitched against the Hurricanes twice, while Simonelli is young and has just seven appearances at Virginia Tech with a 2.70 ERA so far for his career.

The Hurricanes come into this series hoping to keep a disciplined approach at the plate while also improving a .229 team batting average, which ranks last in the ACC. Miami walked 25 times last weekend, but had just one homerun and just seven extra-base hits overall. As the season continues the Hurricanes offense will have to improve their production at the plate.

Miami’s biggest concern early in the season is fielding. The Hurricanes had a .939 fielding percentage last weekend and it forced Gino DiMare to remove each of his starting pitchers before they reached five innings. Miami’s defense will have to improve as the season goes on, as costly errors could cost the Hurricanes as they deal with a difficult schedule.

The ACC is extremely deep this season, and Virginia Tech has the talent to beat anyone in the conference. Miami will need to continue to improve and play better defense to get off to a good start in conference play with a series win or sweep this weekend. A strong start to conference play this weekend becomes even more important considering that the Hurricanes’ next three weekend opponents after Virginia Tech; NC State, Wake Forest, and Florida State, are all ranked.

Series Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, February 26, 7:00 p.m.

Hurricanes Starter: Daniel Federman (0-1, 8.78 ERA)

Virginia Tech Starter: Chris Gerard (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra (ESPN3)

Game 2

Date & Time: Saturday, February 27, 7:00 p.m.

Hurricanes Starter: Alejandro Rosario (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

Virginia Tech Starter: Anthony Simonelli (1-0, 1.69 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra (ESPN3)

Game 3

Date & Time: Sunday, February 28, 1:00 p.m.

Hurricanes Starter: Victor Mederos (0-0, 1.93 ERA)

Virginia Tech Starter: Ryan Okuda (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: ACC Network Extra (ESPN3)