This Week in Canes Baseball

Adam
Clarke
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Vishnu
Parasuraman
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The Canes were eliminated from any at-large NCAA consideration last week in a dismal 1-3 showing that saw them slip 2 games below .500 against D-1 teams and all but ended the program’s 44 year run of making NCAA Tournaments. The only path forward now is to win the ACC tournament.

The week started with a clash with a very good UCF team. The Golden Knights are a good team, but it was critical for the Canes to notch this win. Instead, they were outclassed by UCF, who jumped out to an early lead and never let Miami back in the game. The Canes lost 5-2.

On the weekend, Friday’s game against UVA was rained out, leading to a double-header. And Jeb Bargfeldt threw a complete game, allowing only 1-run on a solo HR, as the Canes coasted to an easy victory. Game 2 saw the Canes once again jump out to a 4-0 lead before Gregory Veliz collapsed with 2 outs in the 2nd inning. The Cavaliers plated 8 runs with 2 outs, and went ahead 8-4. Miami battled back, to make 8-6, but Canes relievers walked 4 batters then gave up a Grand Slam in the 5th to end it, with UVA taking the game 13-6. In Sunday’s rubber match, Jesse Lepore put in a solid performance, going 5 innings with 3 runs allowed. The Canes took a tie into the bottom of the 8th, but Andrew Cabezas, who struggled all weekend, couldn’t find the zone, and allowed a run to put UVA ahead. Michael Mediavilla came on and induced what could have been an inning ending double play, but an error instead allowed 2-runs to score and all but ended the game. The Canes ended up falling 7-4.

The week summed up the season. The Canes battled, looked good for large stretches, but failed to make winning plays and instead made losing plays multiple to blow games they had a chance of winning. Miami needed a 4-0 week and ended up 1-3. Even if Miami runs off 7 straight wins to make the ACC Championship Game then loses the final, their resume will not be good enough. It’s win the ACC Tournament or bust.

So the task this week is actually different. It’s not about winning, it’s about settling a rotation that Jim Morris has inexplicably chosen to blow up late in the season. Right now, there is only one pitcher with a defined role. Jeb Bargfeldt is the ace and #1 pitcher. After that…Michael Mediavilla was demoted to the bullpen, and continued to struggle with control there. Gregory Veliz was elevated to 2nd starter, and promptly got shelled lasting less than 2 innings. Jesse Lepore was serviceable as a Sunday starter. Evan McKendry is probably the Canes second best starter on the year, but has not started on the weekend. If I’m Jim Morris…well, if I’m Jim Morris I resign in shame. But absent that, it’s probably worth giving McKendry a weekend start to see what he has. Worse yet is that the bullpen has come apart. Frankie Bartow has been struggling for weeks, but Andrew Cabezas joined him this weekend. And for some reason Albert Maury is no longer being used. The Canes singular goal is to win 4 games at the ACC Tournament and it’s hard to imagine them doing that without some semblance of consistency in the staff. Jim Morris has spent much of the year shuffling things trying to find something that works, and it is that shuffling that ultimately might lead to this team’s downfall, because no one is settled.

This week, the games/results are meaningless. Miami’s stout ACC record guarantees participation in the ACC Tournament, and their horrible overall resume guarantees that they will not go beyond the ACC Tournament without winning it.

FGCU
Tue: May 16, 7:00 PM
Note: All games have WVUM radio coverage. TV coverage is on ESPN3.

FGCU looks to sweep the Canes on the season. FGCU won the first game 3-0, and the second 5-4. They’ve struggled since rising to Top 10 in the country early in the year, and might actually not make the NCAA Tournament. But that’s not really relevant here with the Canes struggling to beat anyone on the midweek. Like we said earlier, this week is all about sorting things out on the rotation, so it’ll be interesting to see who the starter is. I would throw Mediavilla in this game. He is clearly 5th out of the Canes starting options. But Morris probably continues to use McKendry.

Virginia Tech
Thu: May 18, 7:00 PM, Fri: May 19, 7:00 PM, Sat: May 20, 1:00 PM
Note: All games have WVUM radio coverage. TV coverage is on ESPN3.

While this series is basically worthless for the Canes, it means everything for Virginia Tech. The bottom 2 teams miss the ACC Tournament, and right now , the Hokies sit just one game above both Pitt and BC. And BC hosts a fairly weak ND team this weekend, which means winning 2 out of 3 isn’t out of the question, and that would force VT to win some games in Coral Gables.

The Hokies enter this series  after dropping a previous series to UNC. While there is no shame in that, they did lose the final game 20-0. They have one standout series win, taking 2 of 3 from FSU. They are 9-18 in conference. 2 starters for VT are pretty much known. In some order Connor Coward (4.85 ERA) and Kit Sheetz (3.90 ERA) should start games 1 and 2. VT might throw Pack Naughton with his ERA over 6 in the final game as that was what they opted for much of the year. Last week, they threw Aaron McGarity in the finale, but they also lost by 20 runs, so they might shift strategies. McGarity is also their closer. Overall VT has the worst ERA in the ACC. And if you put the ball in play, they’re also last in fielding percentage.

VT is better at the plate. They rank around 5th in most offensive categories, including 2nd in slugging percentage. They also feature one of the ACC’s best hitters, Sam Fragale, who has 15 HRs and 63 RBI, which is good for 2nd in the ACC. He also bats .315. The Hokies have 4 batter hitting over .300.

Once again, the Canes focus should be on the rotation. And I’d argue they shouldn’t use Bargfeldt at all, instead making sure he’s fresh for the ACC Tournament. But I’m sure Morris throws him Thursday. Then, the rest of the rotation will likely be Veliz and Lepore.

Predictions

Clarke

So these games really don’t matter in terms of the post-season chances for Miami, since it’s win the ACC Tournament or bust in that regard. And frankly, Miami is not good enough to win the ACC Tournament anyway. But if they want to improve their slight chances here, a strong weekend against Virginia Tech could bump them up a seed or two. If Miami can get up to the 5th or 6th seed in the ACC (going into the week, they are 7th), then they will avoid being put in a pool with the two conference juggernauts in Louisville and UNC. But given that Miami hasn’t swept anybody all year, even that seems unlikely. Put me down for a 2-2 week, with Miami finishing the year under .500. “Embarrassing” doesn’t do this season justice. 

Parasuraman

This team sucks and doesn’t look like they realize where this is heading. There is a complete lack of urgency and focus, which leads to repeated lapses, and ultimately failure. With that said, VT is not very good. I think the Canes manage to take 2 out of 3, although it is the conference’s worst pitching against the conference’s worst hitting. And of course, the Canes will lose on the midweek. Miami closes out the season with a 2-2 week. 

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