University of Miami

Hot-hitting UM baseball team ready for ACC showdown vs. Georgia Tech

Zack Collins and the UM baseball team enter this weekend’s series against Georgia Tech on a nine-game win streak.
Zack Collins and the UM baseball team enter this weekend’s series against Georgia Tech on a nine-game win streak. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Zack Collins called the Miami Hurricanes’ recent hitting bonanza “absurd,’’ an accurate adjective coming from Baseball America’s 2014 National Freshman of the Year who has eight home runs and 28 RBI during Miami’s nine-game winning streak.

Over that stretch, the Canes, who will host Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. Thursday in the first game of their final regular-season series, are hitting .390 as a team and getting on base more than half the time.

“When the ball is flying, everybody seems to be pretty excited,” said outfielder Willie Abreu, whose .306 batting average is only seventh-best among the Canes, who are led by second baseman George Iskenderian’s .396 clip.

UM leads the nation in on-base percentage, ranks second in runs scored, second in walks and fourth in hits — with 50 home runs, compared to 25 all of last season.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had hitting since I’ve been here,” said David Thompson, who has an Atlantic Coast Conference-leading 15 home runs and a nation-leading 68 RBI. “It’s a good time to get hot.”

The Canes (39-13, 19-8 ACC) have already clinched the Coastal Division and secured a No. 2 seed in next week’s ACC tournament in Durham, North Carolina. They likely need a strong next week-and-a-half to be one of eight teams awarded a national seeding in the NCAA tournament that begins May 29 at 16 regional sites across the country.

A national seeding guarantees that a regional host — which UM is expected to be — stays at its home field should it advance to one of eight Super Regionals. The final eight victors advance to the College World Series.

“We want to go back to Omaha; we want to have a chance to win,” said UM coach Jim Morris, who led the Hurricanes to two of their four national titles and brought them to the College World Series in 11 of his first 15 years in Miami — but hasn’t been back to Omaha since 2008. “This club right here feels like it has a chance to do that.”

The Hurricanes have the nation’s No. 3 RPI and are ranked as high as No. 7 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, with a No. 17 ranking by Baseball America.

Georgia Tech (32-19, 13-14 ACC), which won last year’s ACC tournament, needs a win against UM combined with a Wake Forest loss at Duke — or two wins against Miami — to guarantee a tournament berth, among other possible scenarios.

UM’s pitching, an afterthought this season, has combined for a 1.78 ERA during the winning streak and has a 3.11 overall ERA that ranks fourth in the ACC.

Abreu said he “gets goosebumps’’ thinking about postseason celebratory pileups and how he watched them growing up at UM games.

“I felt like it was me on the field,” he said. “Now I am on the field, so I want to bring that back.”

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