Miami Hurricanes’ baseball regional opener Friday vs. Bethune-Cookman
05/27/2014 12:01 AM
09/08/2014 7:20 PM
The Miami Hurricanes didn’t get the national seed they had hoped for before losing two of three games last weekend in the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament.
But what they got Monday for their NCAA regional this weekend in Coral Gables was an especially favorable draw: No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman (26-31), No. 3 Columbia (29-18) and No. 2 Texas Tech (40-18).
The No. 1 regional seed Hurricanes gathered in their clubhouse to watch the announcement on ESPNU and applauded heartily as they learned they’ll face Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Bethune at 7 p.m. Friday at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Texas Tech of the Big 12 opens with Columbia of the Ivy League at 2 p.m.
“It’s amazing,’’ said UM coach Jim Morris, when asked how he felt about the Hurricanes (41-17) earning a berth in the NCAA tournament for the 42nd consecutive year — the longest active postseason streak for any collegiate sport. “It’s a credit to our administration for giving us an opportunity to compete at that level; to our players, our coaches, to be able to keep that string going.’’
The winner of the double-elimination Coral Gables Regional will face the winner of the Gainesville Regional in a super regional that begins June 6. The Gainesville Regional, considered a more difficult draw, features host and No. 2 national seed UF (40-21), No. 2 regional seed Long Beach State (32-24), No. 3 North Carolina (34-25) and No. 4 College of Charleston (41-17).
If UM and UF win their regionals, the Canes would travel to Gainesville for the next round.
If UM wins its regional and any team other than UF wins the Gainesville Regional, the super regional will be held in Coral Gables.
The Canes defeated the Gators in two of three games this season in Coral Gables, but have not done well recently in the postseason against them.
“You know what?’’ Morris said. “I can’t worry about the matchup for the next thing. The only thing I can worry about is the matchup right now. I only know that we played very good on the road, and I expected to go on the road.’’
Fellow ACC power and No. 5 national seed Florida State (43-15) on Friday will face No. 4 regional seed Georgia Southern (39-21) in the Tallahassee Regional, with No. 2 Alabama (34-22) facing No. 3 Kennesaw State (37-21).
The Southeastern Conference has 10 teams in the tournament, the ACC has seven and the Big 12 and Pac-12, five apiece.
The Hurricanes, 178-91 all-time in the postseason, insisted that they refuse to take the Wildcats lightly on Friday — especially because they split their two games against Bethune this season. Bethune won 7-3 on March 11. UM won 10-1 on April 2.
Wildcats ace Montana Durapau (11-1, 1.71 ERA), who beat UM in March, is expected to pitch again Friday. He is a career 2-0 against the Canes.
Morris said he wasn’t sure of his rotation for this weekend.
“He beat us last year and he beat us this year,’’ Morris said of Durapau. “He’s very good. Got great stuff, locates well, mixes his pitches up. I’m sure that’s the guy that will pitch against us.’’
UM’s left-handed ace Chris Diaz (9-0, 2.31) had a bad outing on Thursday in a 3-2 loss to Clemson. Diaz only gave up one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, but walked five and hit one batter.
“He had some problems with his index finger,’’ Morris said. “He couldn’t throw his knuckle curve, and because of not being able to put pressure on it he couldn’t locate. It wasn’t anything serious, but at the same time he couldn’t grip the ball that day. He’s fine now.’’
Though the Hurricanes have four national titles (1982, ’85, ’99 and ’01), they haven’t been to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series since 2008. Last year they were eliminated at the Louisville Regional. In 2012, the last time they hosted a regional, the Canes thought they drew an easy bracket but didn’t advance.
“We didn’t know who Stony Brook was — the team from up north somewhere that we didn’t know and they came in and put it to us pretty well,’’ center fielder Dale Carey said. “Bethune is always a good team.’’
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