Someone in Coral Gables must have hit the repeat button, because the Canes week followed a near identical sequence to the one before. The Canes won their home midweek matchup, besting FAU 7-5 behind a strong outing by Greg Veliz. But then Miami traveled back to the research triangle, this time to face UNC.
The Canes were blanked in game 1. UNC’s ace held Miami to just 3 hits through 7 innings, while Jesse Lepore got tagged early for 6 runs in the first 4 innings. The Canes fell 7-2 when it was all said and done.
Saturday’s game was a highlight reel of missed opportunities and errors for the Canes. In a rare occurrence, Miami was actually able to outhit the Tar Heels 10-4, but still lost the game 6-3. One key reason was the 4 in the error column for Miami, but it was also caused by a string of base running errors and untimely strikeouts with runners in scoring position. The loss meant a second consecutive dropped series for Miami, who still struggles to get above .500 overall.
Like last week, the Canes did avoid the sweep with a win on Sunday, though they were helped by 4 errors by UNC. Michael Mediavilla routinely pitched himself in and out of trouble, en route to a 6-2 Canes victory.
Miami is back at home this weekend with yet another North Carolina foe, but will first make the short trip to Fort Myers for a surprisingly tough matchup with FGCU.
Wed: Mar 29, 6:30 PM
Note: This game will have WVUM radio coverage.
This is the first of 3 games Miami will play against FGCU this year, with future games (in Coral Gables) on April 12 and May 16.
FGCU, if you can believe it, is currently ranked in the top 10 of some national baseball polls. They are 22-3, having won 8 straight coming into this matchup. Those 22 victories include wins over UF (twice), and FSU.
Miami will need another strong performance out of Greg Veliz on the mound, as he faces a strong FGCU lineup. It’s not a lineup that stacked with power (17 homeruns as a team), but they have 6 hitters above .300, and no regulars hitting less than .200. SS Julio Gonzalez leads the way with a .347 average and .515 slugging percentage.
Florida Gulf Coast has been sending Junior RHP Mario Leon for the past few midweek matchups. He was the starting pitcher for wins over FAU, Florida, Florida State, and USF, so is looking to add another Florida school to that impressive list. He has a respectable 3.33 ERA, though he has had a couple games where his control has lost him.
This is as tough as a midweek matchup comes for Miami, but it’s a chance for them to get a quality win on the resume, something sorely needed for their postseason hopes.
Fri: Mar 31, 7:00 PM, Sat: Apr 1, 7:00 PM, Sun: Apr 2, 1:00 PM
Note: All games will be on ESPN3 with radio coverage on WVUM.
There are few easy weeks during conference play in the ACC, and this week will be no different for Miami. Wake Forest is not a consensus top-25 team, but they are 18-7, 6-3 in conference with 3 series wins (NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech).
The first thing that jumps out at you when looking at Wake Forest is that they have guys who can rake. They lead the ACC in home runs (45! Miami has 12), batting average (.320), slugging (.537), on-base percentage (.422), hits (294)… you get the point. 6 Wake Forest players have 5+ homers, 6 starters are hitting above .300 (with two above .400). We could name a bunch of players that have been impressive so far this season, but it’s easier if we just say this: every hitter that a Miami pitcher will face this weekend would be in the 3 or 4 slot in the Canes lineup.
Some of the games Wake Forest has lost this season have been by scores of 7-6, 8-5, 15-9, etc. So as you would expect, the limiting factor on this team’s success appears to be the consistency of their pitching. Overall, they are middle of the ACC in terms of team ERA (4.28). The Demon Deacons might be in need of a rotation shuffling, as their usual Friday starter Parker Dunshee enters this week with a 5.05 ERA. He does have an impressive 45 Ks through 35.2 innings, but is giving up quite a few extra base hits. Donnie Sellers (3.86 ERA) sees the mound on Saturdays, but Sunday starter Connor Johnstone (3.32 ERA) has looked the best of the bunch. The Demon Deacons rely on 3-4 arms out of the bullpen, most notably Griffin Roberts (1.25 ERA, 33 Ks).
When I watch this team, I can’t help but feel like there’s a decent, respectable team somewhere in there, it just can’t get out of its own way. The errors, baserunning mistakes, and overall poor execution have cost Miami a couple of ACC series already, and they can’t afford to drop too many more. This is yet another week where 0-4 is probably only the 2nd or 3rd most likely outcome. I actually am confident Miami can steal the midweek game, just because I’ve been impressed by Greg Veliz in that role lately. As for the weekend, I think Miami will struggle to keep up with Wake’s offensive output and drop a 3rd consecutive ACC series. Miami finishes the week 2-2.
I think the Canes are really close to being a good team. They should have won the series against UNC but threw away the 2nd game. But I do think Sunday’s win might have finally been a turning point. There are a couple things that need to happen. First, the Canes have to cut out the errors. Several players that were clean last year are making mistakes. Second, they have to shuffle the rotation. Jesse Lepore has an ERA over 9 in ACC play. If he goes to Sunday, and Bargfeldt and Mediavilla slide up a day, it will help immensely. FGCU and WF are good teams, but this Miami team does have talent, and I do think there is a corner to turn. And screw it…let’s just say it happens this week. Miami goes 4-0, and gets the season back on track..