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No. 22 Hurricanes Baseball Off To ‘Meh’ Season Start, Begin UF Series Tonight

The No. 6 Gators offer an opportunity for the Canes

COLLEGE BASEBALL: FEB 26 Dartmouth at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We pause our coverage of March Madness and offseason football coaching staff overhauls to remind Canes fans that their Top 25 ranked baseball team heads to Gainesville tonight for their annual series against the No. 6 Florida Gators.

Gino DiMare’s team is eager to move on from last season’s collapse. Everyone just forget that the 2022 Hurricanes spent much of the season ranked in the Top 5 before falling in their home regional. It’s a new season and a new opportunity to snap the CWS drought.

2023 Early Season

COLLEGE BASEBALL: FEB 26 Dartmouth at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Two weeks into the 2023 season, Miami (7-2) has been...okay...just okay for a ranked team aspiring to return to Omaha for the first time since 2016. The Hurricanes dropped one game while winning their opening weekend series against Penn State, and then dropped a really disappointing second game this past Tuesday at FAU in Boca Raton. The FAU loss was particularly frustrating for Miami’s bats. The Canes stranded six runners in the final three frames in route to a one-run loss.

Opening night starter Gage Ziehl (1-1, 11.57 ERA), a 2021 11th round draft pick, has struggled in his first two outings. Ziehl was lit up for 5 runs in only 2 innings against unranked Penn State, then fared only slightly better against Dartmouth in allowing 4 runs over 5 innings. Miami’s No. 2 starter Karson Ligon (2-0, 0.66 ERA) is playing like Miami’s ace while the Hurricanes’ third weekend starter, Alejandro Rosario (1-0, 3.18 ERA), has reliably handed the bullpen a middle inning lead. Speaking of bullpen, closer Andrew Walters (1-0, 1 save) has been lights out having yet to yield a run while striking out 7 in five appearances this season.

With Tuesday’s disheartening exception at FAU, the Hurricanes bats have been fairly solid against mediocre competition. Starting with the homeruns - Canes dig the long ball - an impressive eight out of nine starters have multiple homeruns, and eight of the nine Hurricanes’ contests have featured multiple home runs. Middle of the order hitters Zach Levenson (RF) and Blake Cyr (2B) lead Miami with batting averages of .500 and .440, respectively. Cleanup hitter Yohandy Morales (3B), a preseason Golden Spikes Award watchlist honoree, has also had a strong start hitting .400 and leads the team with 11 runs (thanks in great part to Levenson’s and Cyr’s early season success).

3 Keys to Winning the Florida Gator Series

  1. Opening Night Starting Pitching. Expect a run-filled weekend in Gainesville, especially tonight considering that both teams lead off starters are underperforming to start the season. Whichever starter makes it past the fifth inning will probably pick up the win. Ziehl showed improvement in his second outing against Dartmouth, which isn’t saying much. Florida’s Sproat has also looked vulnerable despite a 2-0 start.
  2. Top of the Order Hitting. Levenson, Cyr, Morales, and Carlos Perez (C) have really separated themselves from the other Hurricanes hitters this season. All are batting above .368, all are slugging .800 or better, and all have 3 home runs. Unfortunately, all typically hit between 4th and 8th on the order. Top of the order hitters Dario Gomez (CF) and Edgardo Villegas (RF) need to step up. In Tuesday’s loss to FAU, Gomez and Villegas combined for 2 hits, no runs, and 2 strike outs in 11 at bats. That didn’t cut it against the Owls and it certainly won’t cut it against the No. 6 Gators.
  3. Get to the Gators Bullpen. The Gators are coming off their own mid-week disappointing loss, dropping a 10-8 contest to Jacksonville on Wednesday. UF largely had the game in-hand until the Dolphins (yes, I had to look up Jacksonville’s nickname) exploded for a six run sixth inning giving Jacksonville an insurmountable lead. Five of UF’s middle relievers have a 6.75 ERA or higher. Sit the starter down early and the flood gates could open like they did on Wednesday.

Game Information

Game 1: Friday, March 3, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.

  • Projected Starters: Miami’s Gage Ziehl (1-1, 11.57 ERA) vs. UF’s Brandon Sproat (2-0, 5.06 ERA)
  • TV: ESPN’s SECN+
  • Radio: WVUM 90.5

Game 2: Saturday, March 4, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.

  • Projected Starters: Miami’s Karson Ligon (2-0, 0.66 ERA) vs. UF’s Hurston Waldrep (2-0, 3.27 ERA)
  • TV: ESPN’s SECN+
  • Radio: WVUM 90.5

Game 3: Sunday, March 5, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.

  • Projected Starters: Miami’s Alejandro Rosario (1-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. UF’s Jac Caglianone (1-0, 2.38 ERA)
  • TV: ESPN’s SECN+
  • Radio: WVUM 90.5

Go Canes, beat Florida!