University of Miami

The UM Canes are hanging by a thread. But there's still hope to avoid the unthinkable

Left-handed University of Miami senior pitcher Jeb Bargfeldt will start in the Hurricanes final regular-season series opener on Thursday, May 17, against Boston College. The Canes are on an eight-game winning streak.
Left-handed University of Miami senior pitcher Jeb Bargfeldt will start in the Hurricanes final regular-season series opener on Thursday, May 17, against Boston College. The Canes are on an eight-game winning streak. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Don’t count the Miami Hurricanes out.

In the midst of the nation’s second-longest win streak — eight consecutive victories — in Division I college baseball, the program that won the College World Series in 1982, 1985, 1999 and 2001 still hopes to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

UM will usher out the Jim Morris era Thursday through Saturday in the final home series of Morris’ 25-season coaching tenure in Coral Gables, with Saturday’s tickets selling for $3 apiece (Morris is nicknamed “3’’ for his No. 3 jersey) to draw a full house.

The opponent: Atlantic Coast Conference cellar-dwelling Boston College, at 17-30 overall and 7-20 in the conference, by far the worst team in the league.

It took the Hurricanes (25-25, 14-13 ACC) this long to get to .500. But to achieve their goal of an at-large bid in the 64-team NCAA tournament and avoid the unthinkable— missing the postseason two years in a row after a national-record streak of 44 NCAA berths — the Canes must sweep the Eagles and likely must at least get into the ACC tournament championship game.

The only automatic way for UM to qualify for the NCAA tourney would be by winning the ACC tournament that begins Tuesday and runs through May 27 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in North Carolina.

"I believe we can win the ACC tournament,'' Morris said Wednesday after practice. "We've got a lot of young players who are getting better. Our goal all along was that at tournament time they'd be playing their best. And I think they are.''

But short of an ACC tourney victory, the Canes must win all three against BC, which would give them an 11-game win streak heading into the ACC tournament, and put the Canes over .500, required by the 10-member NCAA Division I Baseball Committee to even be considered for the postseason.

"I absolutely believe we can make it into the [NCAA] tournament,'' said junior third baseman Romy Gonzalez. "This weekend is going to be big. We've definitely got to win three, and that would make it 11 games in a row, which is something pretty special. We've just got to carry the momentum going into the ACC tournament.''

UM’s current RPI: 59, which isn’t strong enough for the Canes to feel secure about an at-large bid.

In 2017, the Canes were 4-4 in their last eight games heading into the final home series against Virginia Tech. They swept that series to go 29-26 in the regular season, then went 2-1 in the ACC tournament for a 31-27 record.

But it wasn’t enough to propel them to the national tournament.

The Canes could have helped themselves a great deal had Tuesday night’s game against Stetson (40-11), which has a No. 7 RPI of 300 Division I college baseball teams, not been canceled in the bottom of the fifth because of rain and lightning. Stetson’s win streak currently leads the nation at 10 games, and the score was 1-1.

"This streak has given us confidence to carry into the next game and some looseness in the clubhouse,'' said freshman shortstop Freddy Zamora, who leads the team with a .316 batting average and 62 hits.

"This is a big deal for us,'' Zamora said of the final regular-season series. "We're going to battle our butts off.''



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