UM Faces Road Test

Even after wrapping up another series victory at home UM baseball coach Jim Morris wasn't very thrilled with the way the Hurricanes performed against Oral Roberts. Still, by the time Sunday had rolled around the Hurricanes had taken two of three from the Golden Eagles and notched their sixth series win at Mark Light Field.

"We were a little sloppy out there to put it nicely," said Morris after the Hurricanes 11-8 victory in the series finale.

Morris was especially with the Hurricanes lack of concentration on defense and failure to execute on the basepaths.

That probably has to change this weekend.

The nationally-ranked Hurricanes (25-6) will be in for a tough assignment when they travel to Virginia (20-10) to face the fourth-place Atlantic Coast Conference Cavaliers, who are coming off a series defeat to Virginia Tech. But that was away from their friendly confines of Davenport Field at the UVA Baseball Stadium.

Despite a 2-5 start to the season, which included sweeps at the hands of Auburn and Richmond, the Cavaliers will welcome the Hurricanes sitting 10 games over the .500 mark thanks to an unblemished record on their home diamond.

"It's one of those things that's really hard to explain. That's baseball," said Virginia coach Dennis Womack who has been witness to a 16-0 start at home by the Cavaliers. "I guess part of it is that guys like sleeping in their own bed and eating home-cooked meals. I couldn't tell you but I sure hope it doesn't end."

After getting off slowly the Cavaliers used a seven-game winning streak to straighten the ship and get back into the ACC race. The Cavaliers also had a 10-game winning streak in between three consecutive losses at Florida State.

Virginia, hitting .310 overall, lacks the power sources that the Hurricanes have enjoyed this season. But that's not to be mistaken for being able to put the ball in play.

"We're just a bunch of guys that make things happen," said senior outfielder Chris Street, who leads all regular starters with a .378 batting average and has a team-high 21 RBIs. "We'll try to get on base and push them around anyway we can."

So far it's been effective.

The Cavaliers will head into the weekend series against the Hurricanes with seven players hitting .300 or better, spearheaded by Street who has added 45 hits in 119 at-bats and 25 runs scored. Chris' brother Matt is hitting .318 with a homer and 18 RBIs. Sophomore infielder Mark Reynolds has supplied most of the power for the Cavaliers with five home runs and 26 RBIs, while freshman Tom Hagan (.386) complied a .477 slugging percentage before suffering an injury earlier in the season.

But for all the production at the plate Womack is thrilled with a starting pitching staff that has netted 11 victories through 30 games and possess the potential to overpower a batting order on any given night. Sophomore left-hander Andrew Dobies, expected to start the series opener, has paved the way with a 6-0 record and 3.30 ERA. Dobies has recorded 43 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched. Junior right-hander Jeff Kamrath (3-1, 2.72) has allowed 34 hits in 39 innings pitched, while fanning 16. Junior Mike Ballard is 2-2 with a 1.93 ERA.

"Our pitchers have given us some real good innings all year long," Womack said.

Miami will be looking to break into some of that success. The Hurricanes led offensively by Richard Gianotti (.382) are coming off an 11-8 victory over Oral Roberts and a three-game series in which they scored 20 runs. This after torching previously No. 2 Georgia Tech for 57 runs two weeks ago. Freshman Ryan Braun, who leads the Hurricanes in hits (46), home runs (9) and RBIs (39), currently has a 13-game hitting streak. Jim Burt (.330, 6, 23) and catcher Erick San Pedro (.367, 22 RBIs) have recently also done plenty of damage offensively.

On the mound for the Hurricanes against the Cavaliers: J. D. Cockroft (5-0, 2.75 ERA), Vince Bongiovanni (5-2, 3.04) and Brandon Camardese (4-0, 5.24)

Friday and Saturday first pitches will be at 7 p.m., while the Sunday game is slated for 1 p.m.

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