Any good feelings or momentum coming off of a home sweep against Virginia were quickly washed away with a woeful 0-4 week (0-5, if you choose to count the 22-2 beating they took from the Marlins in an exhibition game). The Canes managed just 6 runs over 4 real games (including 3 games scoring 1 run or less), and struck out an incredible 47 times. The performance against Georgia Tech was particularly egregious, as the Yellow Jackets entered the week with a team ERA above 5.
Miami wasted an excellent performance from Daniel Federman on Wednesday night against FGCU. The true freshman allowed 4 hits and just one run through 8 innings. Miami threatened in the 9th, getting the first two men on base with no outs, only to hit into a double-play and fly-out in quick succession. Miami would fall 1-0.
As for the weekend? We could recap these games individually, but it would be depressingly repetitive. Here’s the story of all three games: Miami’s [starting pitcher] was not as his best and fell behind early. Meanwhile the offense could never muster any serious threat against [Georgia Tech pitcher], who threw for his a career-high in Ks (yes, this happened in all three games). The Canes lost 6-1, 13-4, and 4-1.
Miami is now 3 games under .500 (12-15), with another tough week on deck. Mercifully, it is 4 home games (the Canes are 10-7 at home compared to 2-8 away from the Light). Their RPI is in the 70s. Canes Baseball is on pace to start a new streak – back-to-back years missing the NCAA tournament.
Wed: Apr 4, 6:00 PM
Note: All games have WVUM radio coverage. TV coverage is on ESPN3.
This will be the third matchup between the Canes and the Owls this year. Miami has already lost the season series after losses in February and March (a collapse in which the Canes gave up 8 runs in the final 3 innings, including 6 in the 9th). The Owls have been inconsistent with their choice of pitcher for these midweek matchups. Mike Ruff got his first shot at starting last week against Bethune-Cookman, but generally FAU has not let their midweek guy go more than a few innings before moving to the bullpen. One thing working in Ruff’s favor against Miami is his 13.6 K/9 rate.
As we have mentioned in the previous two times we previewed FAU, this is a very potent offense. Their collective batting average is .262, but they have 26 home runs as a team. Tyler Frank leads them with 16 extra-base hits (including 8 HR). Frank is one of four starters who are hitting above .300. Miami’s Daniel Federman is coming off his best performance of his young career and might need to match that for the Canes to have a chance here.
Fri: Apr 6, 7:00 PM, Sat: Apr 7, 7:00 PM, Sun: Apr 8, 1:00 PM
Note: All games have WVUM radio coverage. TV coverage is on ESPN3.
Coming off a 3-game sweep of Wake Forest, UNC enters the week with a 18-10 record, 8-4 in conference (second place in the Coastal). They have series losses to Florida State, Louisville and East Carolina. Their other conference series win was also a sweep, over Pittsburgh.
UNC is among the conference’s best in offensive production. They are third in the conference in average(.282), slugging percentage (.429), and on-base percentage (.394). Similar to Miami’s last opponent, Georgia Tech, they have plenty of power, with 31 home runs on the year. Leading the way offensively are the 1-2-3 hitters: Cody Roberts, Michael Busch, and Kyle Datres. Datres leads the team with a .371 average, while Busch leads the team with 8 home runs. C/DH Brandon Martorano is the other major power hitter, with 7 homers of his own.
On the mound, UNC is expected to send out right handers Tyler Baum and Austin Bergner on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Baum (3-0, 4.38 ERA) got knocked around by Florida State two weeks ago, but has otherwise been reasonably consistent. Bergner (4-1, 3.58 ERA) has also been a steady presence in the Tar Heels rotation. Up until last week against Wake, Taylor Sugg (2-0, 5.12 ERA) had been the third starter, but he was replaced by Rodney Hutchinson, who was moved up from the midweek role. We were unable to determine if this was performance related, or because of an injury.
UNC’s bullpen is probably the strongest aspect of the team, statistically. There are four guys who get regular action out of the pen on weekends, all of whom have ERAs under 2.2. All four are also rightys, but Miami does not tend to discriminate at whom they wildly swing the bat, so we don’t expect that to make a big difference. Brett Daniels (1.41) leads the way with a 1.31 ERA. There haven’t been a ton of save scenarios for the Tar Heels, so only Josh Hiatt (2.14 ERA) has any on the board, with 2.
Full disclosure – I probably watched no more than 2 innings of Canes Baseball this week. Not because I was otherwise pre-occupied, but because there is absolutely nothing fun about watching this team. Hardly anybody has any discipline at the plate, lazy defense routinely leads to opposing runs, and every time the camera cuts to the coach, we see the same vacant expression. It seems like every weekend, we see a picture of Morris getting some sort of commemorative gift from the opposing team – worthy recognition for a legend of the university and the sport. But it has become increasingly evident that such recognition should have come two years ago, allowing Morris to leave on a reasonably high note. What happened last year was supposed to just be a blip, but it is now becoming more and more likely that Miami will once again miss the NCAA tournament. A good set of performances at home this week could change that, but what would give anyone the reason to consider that likely? The sweep over UVA doesn’t look all that spectacular in hindsight, as they just lost a series to ACC bottom-dweller Pitt. This feels like a 1-3 week to me, including yet another midweek loss.
This team sucks. Flatly. They can’t hit, they can’t field. There are some good pitchers, but the only way for this team to win is for those pitchers to essentially pitch a shutout, which is just not a sustainable solution. This season feels over. There is still time to turn it around, but there are so many bad signs. The Canes are 3 games under .500, meaning they’ll need a massive win streak to get back in the NCAA conversation. On top of that, the ease with which runs are thrown away in the field, and the difficulty the Canes have in translating hits into run (due to a complete lack of power and an absurd amount of strikeouts) makes winning any game extremely difficult, and makes having a winning streak almost impossible. The Canes scored 1 or less run in 3 of 4 games last week. It’s a joke. So, this week in comes an FAU team who the Canes imploded against 2 weeks ago and a UNC team that is clearly better than Miami. This team has to be at the end of the line. I don’t see another fight back. Canes go 0-4 again this week.