This Week in Canes Baseball

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After winning games 1 and 2 on the back of some nice offensive performances, Miami seemed ready to cruise to yet another victory and start the season off with a resounding sweep of Rutgers. The Canes were up 5-0 through three innings, and starter Evan McKendry was dealing, striking out 7 of the first 10 hitters. What followed was a 7-run inning for Rutgers that included two walks, three errors, a wild pitch, and three singles. Miami hardly threatened the rest of the way, and dropped the game 7-5.

It’s entirely too soon to make judgments about this team after just three games, but both optimists and pessimists will walk away from this weekend feeling validated. The moment did not seem too big for some of the Canes new faces. Danny Reyes, the UF transfer, had an excellent series and earned ACC co-player of the week honors. Alex Toral’s first hit was a towering home run. And the bullpen looked impressive in extended action all weekend. But the starting pitching was erratic, at best. None of the three starters went deeper than the 6th inning, with Greg Veliz and McKendry each not making it out of the 4th. The aforementioned error plagued 4th inning on Sunday, combined with the sudden disappearance of any offensive threat, felt very reminiscent of last season.

The Canes are back at Mark Light Field again this week, with two SEC foes in town, including the defending national champion Florida Gators.

Wed: Feb 21, 6:00 PM
Note: All games have WVUM radio coverage. TV coverage is on ESPN3.

Missouri is on an extended tour of South Florida, opening their season with a series against FIU a few miles away from Coral Gables. The Tigers are not a perennial baseball power, and have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2012. But they took a step forward last year under a new coach, and have started off their season taking 2 of 3 from FIU, including an impressive 22-1 victory on Saturday.

Poor performances against lesser competition in the midweek games were a large reason for Miami missing the NCAA Tournament last year. Michael Mediavilla is scheduled to start for the Canes, and it will be very interesting to see if he’s back on form after a poor 2017 season (he threw 1 inning out of the bullpen on Friday night, not allowing a hit while striking out two).

Fri: Feb 23, 7:00 PM, Sat: Feb 24, 7:00 PM, Sun: Feb 25, 12:00 PM
Note: All games have WVUM radio coverage. TV coverage is on ESPN3.

After their 6th College World Series appearance in the last 8 years, the Gators finally got their first national championship last year. As you would expect, they have lost a lot of pieces from that title team, including ace Alex Faedo. But Florida has recruited well and entered the year as the top team in just about every national poll. They waltzed through an overmatched Sienna team on opening weekend, and have two midweek opponents (FAU and Bethune-Cookman) before traveling to Coral Gables for the annual matchup with the Canes.

UF has what is widely considered the best weekend rotation in the nation. At the top of that rotation is Brady Singer, tabbed as a likely top-5 (if not first overall) pick in the next MLB draft. Jackson Kowar and Tyler Dyson will pitch on Saturday and Sunday. The bullpen is deep as well, but it is lead by closer Michael Byrne, who returns after setting a school record last year with 19 saves.

Gone are Mike Rivera and Dalton Guthrie, who have been mainstays in the UF lineup the last few years. But this UF team scored 36 runs in 3 games last week, including 6 home runs. Last year’s leader in RBIs, JJ Schwarz, is the biggest name in a talented lineup.



If the opening series against Rutgers is the equivalent of dipping your toe into the pool, this week is like getting thrown head first into the deep end. The Canes don’t play a lot of Power 5 opponents in midweek games, and while Mizzou is probably in the bottom half of the SEC, it’s still a tough game. Mediavilla’s pitching will be key, but I think the Canes earn a victory there. The weekend is another story. The Gators are once again an elite team. If Canes fans are looking for a silver lining, you can consider last season, where, in Gainesville, the National Champion Gators swept the worst Canes team in 40+ years, but only by scores of 1-0, 2-0, and 6-2. Because Florida has two midweek games and has to travel to Coral Gables for this series, I think the Canes find a way to sneak a win. But I can’t go far enough to predict a series victory. Unfortunately, the gulf between these two programs seems to be growing, not shrinking. Miami goes 2-2, and loses the series to UF.


Missouri is pretty strong, and lit up FIU’s pitching last weekend, but I have a lot of confidence in Michael Mediavilla. In fact, I expect him to be back in the weekend rotation at some point this year. Miami beats Missouri. And then onto Florida, the defending national champions and one of the best teams in the country. But at some point, the tide will turn. I think Miami’s pitching bounces back somewhat, and the bullpen showed how strong it was last week. There is enough hitting (we know Reyes will be fired up) to score this year. I think the Canes and Gators split the first 2 games, and the Canes take the rubber match. Miami goes 3-1 and jump starts their season. 

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