BASEBALL: Gators vs. Miami Preview

Top ranked Florida (3-1) visits arch-rival Miami (6-3) in Coral Gables this weekend. The series has been extremely competitive since the arrival of Florida Coach Pat McMahon, with the Canes holding a 9-8 edge.

The Gators will limp into Mark Light Stadium after a lackluster performance against Mercer, who tagged Florida with their first loss of the season. They will drop from their lofty perch once the new polls are released next week.

Prior to Wednesday night's loss, Adam Davis and Gavin Dickey had delivered both offensively and defensively for the Gators. Davis ripped seven hits in his first thirteen at bats, while Dickey opened fire last Sunday with a pair of two-run home runs. Davis has been instrumental in turning double plays for Florida during the first weekend of play. Dickey demonstrated his speed to get to a couple of balls on Sunday.

Quietly though, outfielder Brian Leclerc has been yet another unstoppable force for the Gators. The junior from Clearwater is batting .333, leads the team with two doubles, and has accumulated nine total bases. He has also been pretty solid in the field, where he has hustled to make a couple of defensive gems last weekend.

Miami dropped its' first series of the season against Winthrop. After dumping the Eagles 16-4 in the opener, Winthrop came back to post 8-3 and 4-3 victories over Miami. They traveled to Los Angeles for a three game series and took two of three from UCLA.

The Hurricanes have freshman dominating the right side of the infield with Yonder Alonso at first base and Jemile Weeks taking over at second. Jim Morris is starting a third freshman, Blake Tekotte in the outfield. Tekotte is also batting leadoff where he has been very effective to start the season.

Morris' club is hitting .321 with an on base percentage of .411. The Hurricanes pounded out 12 hits fro 13 runs on the woeful Louisville' pitching staff last Wednesday night.

Pitchers

RHP Bryan Ball (1-0) 0.00 ERA
Ball loves a parade. If your parade is thinking that you have a chance against him, he'd love to take the challenge- rip your heart out and show it to you as you fall. Many teams made that mistake last year and it was he, not Alan Horne, who was Florida's best pitcher until his injury.

Ball pitched a beauty in the second game against Miami. He threw six innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just five hits, while striking out four. He didn't pick up the win as the game went 11 innings, but he was instrumental in Florida's 2-1 victory.

RHP Carlos Gutierrez (3-0) 1.15 ERA
The sophomore from Miami (Columbus) has held opponents to a paltry .186 average. His sparkling 1.15 ERA is best on the team. Gutierrez does an excellent job of mixing his fastball and breaking balls, keeping hitters off balance.

Gutierrez allowed two hits and five earned runs last year in 0.2 innings of work. He came on in the third and struck out LaPorta with two on to end the inning. He walked Jeroloman to start the fourth, and after getting Justin Tordi to fly out, gave up a single by Brian Leclerc. Bryson Barber then walked. Gutierrez promptly hit Brandon McArthur with the bases loaded before Adam Davis added a pair of RBI's with a single to center.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (1-0) 0.00 ERA
Augenstein was sensational last Saturday. He hit his spots. The breaking ball was wicked. He hit his spots. The fastball had good movement on it. He hit his spots. Jeroloman said that his biggest improvement has been his assertive command on the mound.

He struggled against the Canes last season. Augenstein came on in relief of Tommy Boas in game three and allowed three hits and three earned runs in 2.1 innings. He struck out two Hurricanes.

RHP Danny Gil (1-1) 2.45 ERA
A junior from Columbus High School in Miami, Danny Gil has the most experience among the Hurricanes starting pitching staff. Opponents are hitting just .229 against him. Gil that has solid fastball with good movement.

Gil easily had the most success among the returning Miami staff. He pitched three innings of relief (total) in games one and two. Gil yielded just one hit and no runs, while walking three. He earned the save in the Hurricanes 9-7 victory.

LHP J.K. Lacoste (1-0) 0.00 ERA
The freshman southpaw did a super job in Sunday's game against the Bearcats. He threw three innings and gave up just two hits, both singles. LaCoste was especially impressive with his control. He didn't allow a free base and never even ran the count full on any of the eleven batters he faced. He passed the quiz, and will have his first big test this weekend.

LHP Manny Miguelez (1-0) 3.00 ERA
The sophomore from Miami (Coral Reef) is the lone lefthander, who will match-up against Florida lefty J.K. LaCoste. Miguelez has held opponents to a .286 average. He doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but changes speeds on his pitches well and hits his spots.

Miguelez entered the rubber match of the series last year in relief of Gutierrez. He didn't fare any better. The southpaw uncorked a wild pitch which allowing McArthur to score, walked Stephen Barton on four consecutive pitches, and walked Jeff Corsaletti on five pitches. He released a second wild pitch allowing Adam Davis to score. Miguelez walked LaPorta before getting out of the inning.

Catcher

Brian Jeroloman .286 2HR 1.000FLD%
This is the guy you want settling in behind home plate when you've got a slew of talented, yet unproven arms. Jeroloman is a coach on the field. These young pitchers will soon learn to trust in him, if they haven't already.

Eddy Rodriguez .278 2DBLS 1.000FLD%

Rodriguez has good power. He has collected five hits with four of them going for extra bases. The junior from Miami didn't see action against the Cardinals.

1st Base

Matt LaPorta .308 7BB .979FLD%
LaPorta has seen fewer pitches than Reggie Jackson in October. He should get an opportunity to see something this weekend against the ‘Canes. They'll challenge him more often than Cincinnati or Mercer. He was robbed of a certain roundtripper against the Bearcats.

Yonder Alonso .394 15RBI 1.000FLD%
The true freshman from Miami has put up some very impressive power numbers. His slugging percentage is .567. Alonso collected only three hits in the series against UCLA. Alonso went two for three with his second home run of the season against Louisville.

2nd Base

Brandon McArthur .250 6R 1.000FLD%
Just when you think that he can't possibly surprise you any more- he does. There were three aspects of his game that I felt needed immediate addressing after last season. Defensive play, laying off some balls that he didn't need to chase, and relaxing a little more and letting his game play out. BMac has taken 15 chances and handled them perfectly, he's putting the ball into play, generally seems more relaxed, and perhaps most importantly is that he's having fun.

Jemile Weeks .375 2Dbls .970FLD%
A true freshman Altamonte Springs, Weeks has been impressive thus far for the Hurricanes. He has committed one error in 33 chances. Weeks hits in the two hole and has delivered for Miami.

Shortstop

Adam Davis .389 7RBI's .941FLD%
Davis is seemingly the perfect leadoff guy. Switch hitter, speedy, intelligent base runner, and possesses that aggressive leadoff personality. Not only did he move up in the order, Davis moved over defensively to shortstop. The result? Davis was named the SEC Player of the Week. The junior has committed just one error in 20 chances.

Roger Tomas .261 2DBLS 1.000FLD%
Tomas is not in the Hurricanes lineup because of his offensive ability. He usually helps Jim Morris' ballclub with his stellar defensive play. The junior from Miramar did not play on Wednesday afternoon.

3rd Base

David cash .250 3BB 1.000FLD%
or
Matt Gaski .333 .556OBP 1.000FLD%
Cash told me that he is getting more comfortable after some early season jitters that all players go through. He has been most impressive defensively. It appears though that he's looking over the pitches more closely. Gaski did not play on Wednesday night, but will continue to challenge for the position. He looks more comfortable offensively at this point, while Cash gets the nod defensively.

Danny Valencia .400 14hits .903FLD%
The junior from Boca Raton leads the team in batting average, hits, and errors. Valencia hits clean-up and has produced for the Canes. However, he has been a liability defensively.

Left field
Gavin Dickey .286 2HR 1.000FLD%
Dickey looked good and bad in the first two games against Cincinnati offensively. He broke out in the Sunday contest. He didn't look very solid on Wednesday either. However, Dickey has been very good defensively.

Blake Tekotte .313 6SB .947FLD%
The true freshman from Columbia, Missouri hits in the leadoff spot and has a solid .425 on base percentage. Tekotte has very good speed and possess a pretty strong arm. He didn't collect a hit against the Cards.

Center field

Chris Woods .273 2BB 1.000FLD%
Woods laid down a pair of sacrifice bunts against Mercer that helped the team tremendously. Hitting in the nine spot allows him to get on base and have the usually dependable Adam Davis bring him around. Woods has been good defensively too.

Jon Jay .370 8RBI 1.000FLD%
The crusty old veteran from Columbus High School in Miami is off to another outstanding start. Just a junior, it seems as though jay has been playing against the Gators since the ‘90's. He scored on Danny Valencia's suicide squeeze against Florida last season (game one) in the ninth inning to help the Canes defeat the Gators 9-7.

Right field

Brian Leclerc .333 3DBL 1.000FLD%
Leclerc was terrific last weekend. He struggles with his teammates on Wednesday though. He has hit the ball hard and run the bases well. He misjudged a ball hit to deep right field against Mercer. He'll have to guard against that at Mark Light.

Tommy Giles .286 3HR 1.000FLD%
Senior Tommy Giles hails from Vero Beach. He is second on the club with a .607 slugging percentage buoyed by three home runs in eight hits. The transfer from Central Florida Community College in Ocala singled in both Miami first inning runs against Louisville.

Designated hitter

Stephen Barton .000
Barton will probably get a chance to hit in the DH spot against Miami. He is hitless in nine trips to the plate. With Bryson Barber, Chris Petrie, Greg Quatrino, and Cody Neer available, he better make the most of it.

Gus Menendez .267
A junior transfer from Miami-Dade Community College. Menendez has a home run and two RBI's in his three hits.

Analysis: Florida needs to put the ball into play, period. While it's certainly not an absolute, the Hurricanes currently start a third baseman who has already surrendered three errors in 31 chances, and freshmen at first and second base.

This will be a tremendous opportunity for Pat McMahon and Ross Jones to find some pitchers who want to be among the trusted. The Gators have a lot of talented, yet inexperienced arms who need to step up in Coral Gables.


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