Frankie Bartow grew up rooting for the University of Miami baseball team and always wanted to follow the Hurricanes to the College World Series.
When the Hurricanes board their plane for Omaha, Nebraska, on Wednesday afternoon, the freshman pitcher from Kendall who spent many evenings watching baseball at Mark Light Field will be on it, ready to try and help lead Miami to its first national title since 2001.
“I’ve been coming to these games since I was little and we always wanted to go to Omaha just to visit,’’ said Bartow, who pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief and picked up the win in Miami’s Super Regional-clinching victory over Boston College on Sunday afternoon.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity our coaches have given me. I’m just happy to go.’’
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Miami coach Jim Morris says the experience the Hurricanes have from going to the CWS last year will help his team this trip. Miami’s run to Omaha last year was its first trip since 2008.
Bartow, however, will be making his first trip to the center of college baseball, his only experience comes from watching the games on television.
Morris isn’t concerned with Bartow’s lack of experience in Omaha.
The Hurricanes have counted on Bartow throughout the year — he earned Freshman All-American honors after going 3-0 during the regular season — and now into the postseason.
Of Miami’s nine games since the ACC tournament started, Bartow has appeared in eight. Three of Bartow’s six wins this season have come in the postseason as he has worked 11 innings out of the pen and has given up six runs off 10 hits with three strikeouts.
“He’s one of those guys with ice water in his veins; nothing bothers him,’’ Morris said Tuesday after one of Miami’s final workouts on campus before leaving for Omaha.
“I’ve nicknamed him ‘Spanky’ because he’s such an easy-going guy. He goes out there and has fun. You can’t tell the difference between when he strikes someone out or gives up a home run. He’s done a great job in big situations and was a key to us winning on Sunday.’’
Said Bartow: “They’ve all been there before, but I’m a freshman. I’m just going to go out there and do my thing. I have confidence in myself. I’m just going to go out, throw strikes and let my defense work. That’s what I’ve been doing all year.’’
Bartow is Miami’s bullpen leader, now appearing in 41 of the Hurricanes’ 62 games as the setup man to closer Bryan Garcia.
Although Bartow came into this season not knowing what his role with Miami would be, he is expected to replace Garcia next year.
“He’s an absolute horse,’’ outfielder Willie Abreu said, “and we’re excited to have him and know he’s going to be here for a while. He just does his thing, goes about his business and doesn’t worry about anything else.”
Morris: Canes to ‘tone it down’
Miami junior Edgar Michelangeli has been getting a lot of attention not only for the two home runs he belted to help the Canes beat Boston College on Sunday, but for the reaction from the Eagles.
Michelangeli’s grand slam in the seventh inning Sunday gave Miami a 9-3 lead and basically ended Boston College’s season. Michelangeli has been criticized nationally for flipping his bat after a slow trot to first as he watched his shot clear the left field fence.
As Michelangeli skipped around third toward his entire team waiting at home plate, BC catcher Nick Sciortino shouted something at Michelangeli prompting a near brawl as both teams needed to be separated.
On Tuesday, Morris said while he didn’t think Michelangeli’s bat flip was as blatant as the one he did after beating N.C. State in the ACC tournament with a three-run homer in the ninth, he did say Miami needs “to tone it down.”
“He toned it down from N.C. State — a lot,’’ Morris said. “These guys are excited and they play with emotion. It’s hard to criticize Boston College for emptying the bench because that kind of put the nail in the coffin for them, they kind of knew their season was over when he hit that. They were crushed; we felt like we had won it. There was a lot of emotion there but nothing really happened.”
▪ Morris said starting pitcher Jesse Lepore (9-0, 2.20 ERA) has been medically cleared after being scratched from Sunday’s start against Boston College.
Lepore, a sophomore, apparently began feeling shoulder tightness during the ACC tournament.
“It shouldn’t be a problem, but he’s still tight,” Morris said. “Until he’s not tight, he won’t pitch. It’s a good ballpark for Jesse to pitch in; it’s a pitcher’s park. He’s medically cleared once he feels OK. He has no structural damage whatsoever.”
In his win against Georgia Tech on May 25, Lepore went six innings but left in the seventh. Lepore only lasted three innings in his next start against Long Beach State in the regional on June 5, giving up a run on three hits with three strikeouts.