Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The U

#2 Miami Hurricanes

Record: 36-22

Bid: At-large, from ACC

Regional Appearances: 36

CWS Appearances: 22

National Titles: 4

Players to Watch: For starters, there are some names on the roster that should be familiar to folks in Columbia. Sophomore CF Blake Tekotte was a star at Hickman and hit .345 this season while appearing in all 57 games for the Hurricanes. Fans from St. Louis should recognize the name of Jason Hagerty, a freshman catcher who was the 2006 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year. Given Miami’s storied history, it’s hard to blame these kids for leaving the state, but it sure would be nice if they regretted that decision by next Monday… Miami’s biggest threat at the plate is sophomore first baseman Yonder Alonso (.378, 18 HRs and 74 RBI). The fact that he was only a second-team All-ACC selection with those numbers goes to show how deep that conference is… The pitching rotation is led by freshman left-hander Eric Erickson (10-3, 2.00), who was an All-ACC selection. Junior lefty Scott Maine (5-5, 3.03) appears to be the No. 2 starter, striking out 73 batters in 92.0 innings pitched… Danny Gil (3-0, 3.73) is probably the best arm out of the bullpen, appearing in 31 games and earning 5 saves.

Pretty much anyone who follows college baseball can tell you that Miami has a rich tradition of winning. Their trip to Columbia marks the 35th consecutive regional appearance for the Hurricanes, which is an NCAA record. Miami has also won 13 consecutive regionals and appeared in last year’s College World Series. Even more daunting is the fact that Miami is 27-2 in its last 29 regional games and has not suffered a regional loss to a team other than Florida since 1998. Still, history alone will not get Miami through to the next round and this year’s Hurricane squad is not as dominant as we have come to expect. Despite winning 10 of their last 13 games, they earned only a No. 5 seed in a very deep ACC tournament and ended up falling to No. 8 seed Wake Forest. They’re bound to lose eventually… right?

It’s hard to know what exactly to expect from Miami this weekend. They have played extremely well at times, including two wins against No. 3 Florida State and No. 13 Clemson. But they also had their share of bad games against teams outside the top 100 in RPI, including two losses to Mercer (RPI 101), a loss to St. Bonaventure (RPI 204), and a loss to North Florida (RPI 152). The one thing we do know is they have postseason experience, so being away from home probably won’t bother them. After all, they made it to the College World Series last year without hosting a regional. I know I’m not going out on a limb here, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Mizzou and Miami facing off on Sunday for the Regional Title. Who comes out on top is anybody’s guess… but my gut reaction, unfortunately, is Miami. Prove me wrong Tigers!

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