University of Miami

Miami baseball soaring, finally ranked and headed toward first NCAA berth in three years

With about a third of the regular season left, the Miami Hurricanes baseball team is on the rise and, barring a complete collapse, appears to be headed toward its first NCAA tournament in three years.

The Canes (25-12, 10-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) swept Virginia this past weekend on the road to jump into the top 25 rankings for the first time since Feb. 26, 2018, when they were No. 24. D1Baseball has Miami ranked No. 23 and Collegiate Baseball has the Canes at No. 22.

More important than the ranking, UM has won seven of its past eight games, including the past five and two of three from Florida State the first weekend in April. The Hurricanes’ RPI is now No. 20 of 299 Division I teams. At season’s end, 64 teams go to the NCAA tournament, which culminates with the top eight advancing to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

UM, which won national titles in 1982, 85, 99 and 2001, hasn’t qualified for an NCAA tourney berth since its last one in 2016, when it got all the way to the College World Series. Miami had its national-record, 44-year postseason NCAA tournament streak snapped in 2017, and again missed a tournament berth in 2018.

“This is the right time,’’ UM coach Gino DiMare said in UM’s report Sunday after the sweep over Virginia. “We talked about it before the series began that now is the time to make a move. We have been sitting kind of on the outside looking in in terms of rankings, and our goal is to try and host [an NCAA regional].’’

Miami is now third in the the ACC’s Coastal Division behind Georgia Tech (24-12, 11-7) and North Carolina (27-10, 10-8). It leads the league in team batting (.296) and is second in pitching (3.69 ERA). Its weakness: fielding, as the Canes are 12th of 14 teams in the ACC, with 48 errors.

“We have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, which we haven’t done the past few years, and it certainly makes it a lot easier,’’ DiMare said.

UM is sixth nationally and tops the ACC in home runs, with 50, 14 of them by Alex Toral (seventh best in the nation).

The Canes meet Florida Gulf Coast (24-12) at Mark Light Field at 6 p.m. Tuesday, then travel to Louisville (28-8, 13-5 ACC), ranked seventh nationally by Baseball America, for a three game series Thursday through Saturday.

Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.