The University of Miami baseball team has at least two serious problems: hitting and fielding – or more accurately, a lack thereof.
The Hurricanes were shut out at home to Dartmouth 5-0 Sunday in the third and final game of their weekend series. They are 4-6 overall in a 56-game regular season, with two mid-week games coming up against FIU and opening Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Georgia Tech traveling to Coral Gables next weekend.
Sunday’s lackluster performance marked the fourth shutout-loss of the young season for UM, and first series loss to a team not in a Power-5 conference since May of 2009 against Bethune-Cookman.
“They outplayed us on Friday and Sunday,’’ said UM coach Jim Morris, whose team is batting .184, committed three errors Sunday and earned its lone win of the weekend on a walk-off balk Saturday. “They outpitched us, they outdefensed us and they got timely hits. We’ve got to play better.’’
UM, which entered the game hitting .179 as a team, had eight hits Sunday and stranded 10 runners at Mark Light Field, including two in the bottom of the ninth. Of the everyday starters, Carl Chester leads Miami with a .250 average. From there it’s .216 and lower.
Add to that the two throwing errors and one fielding error – 15 total for the season – which led to three unearned runs Sunday, and UM has some self-inflicted damage to correct.
Morris believes UM will improve its defense, but needs to “find some guys to drive the runs in and hit in the middle of the lineup.’’
The Canes also need to find some energy. Unlike Saturday, they were lethargic from the start, when freshman Trevor Johnson smacked UM starter Michael Mediavilla’s first pitch over the left field fence.
“From the minute I’m in the locker room with them before the game started I didn’t see the same passion,’’ Morris said. “We’ve lost a lot of really good players the last couple of years. Somebody has got to step up.’’
To make matters worse, Morris confirmed that freshman standout catcher Michael Amditis broke his left leg and sustained ligament damage last Wednesday at FAU and will undergo surgery Wednesday and likely miss the rest of the season. Amditis led the team with a .357 average.
UM senior and team captain Johnny Ruiz, who has been dealing with a sore elbow, played in the field for the first time this season. “We’re a little down right now,’’ the second baseman said. “We haven’t been playing well. We have to bounce back. ...We have to make adjustments. Whatever we’re doing right now isn’t working.
“If we play with passion and energy, I don’t think there are many teams that are going to beat us with the pitching staff we have.”
The Hurricanes’ pitching for the most part has proved to be the strength of this team, though left-handed Mediavilla dropped to 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA. Mediavilla lasted five innings against the Big Green (4-2), allowing all five runs (two earned) on seven hits, two walks and a wild pitch. He had three strikeouts.
To illustrate their woes despite some strong pitching, the Canes’ Friday-night ace Jesse Lepore is 1-2 with a 0.90 ERA.
FIU (5-6) comes to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field for a 6 p.m. game Tuesday, and Miami travels to FIU for a 7 p.m. game Wednesday.
After losing to Manhattan College in the first game of a four-game weekend series, FIU won the next three in a row against the Jaspers.
Noteworthy: Two days after Morris said outfielder Barry Buchowski had left the team “to concentrate on his studies,’’ Buchowski, a senior, returned to the lineup.