Canes Prepare For Big Week

Back in January University of Miami baseball coach Jim Morris had concerns about how a team littered with new faces, an inexperienced pitching staff and facing a tough schedule would live up to annual expectations surrounding them in Coral Gables.

But Morris probably isn't losing sleep these days.

Despite not attracting plenty of national attention and being omitted from most preseason rankings even before the start of the season the Hurricanes are doing their best to gain back some notoriety as they climb up the polls.

UM (27-7), fresh off taking two of three on the road against Virginia, perfect at home before the Hurricanes arrived, enters perhaps the most crucial stretch of the season having won 12 of their last 15 games. Miami travels south to face in-city rival Florida International (28-11) before hosting No. 3 ranked Florida State University (33-6) at Mark Light Stadium.

The Hurricanes visit FSU April 25-27.

"Playing Miami is always a tough task," said FSU Mike Martin. "But Coach Morris has those boys playing some darn good baseball right now. It's going to be a hurdle I'll tell you that."

After splitting four games against Florida Atlantic and Oral Roberts and getting a public lashing by Morris the Hurricanes rebounded this past weekend by taking a three-game series from a Virginia team that was 16-0 at Davenport Field. Aside from an uncharacteristic performance in the season finale against the Cavaliers, which included four errors and 12 walks, Miami received several strong outings from their pitching rotation and some offensive assistance from key players- especially one mired in a long slump.

Left-hander J. D. Cockroft (6-0, 2.35 ERA) gave the Hurricanes a lift and the bullpen a rest with the staff's first complete-game in 145 tries to lead Miami to a 6-1 victory in the middle game of the series. Cockroft allowed an unearned run on six hits, while striking out six. Sophomore Brandon Camardese (5-0, 4.61) opened the series by pitching a career-high 6.2 innings to snap Virginia's home-field winning streak.

Morris also witnessed the resurgence of freshman third baseman Gaby Sanchez who collected three hits in the game. Sanchez had gone over two weeks without a hit and had been dropped in the order. The Hurricanes, hitting .314 overall, were led by Adam Ricks (6-for-12), Burt (5-for-12) and Ryan Braun (5-for-10, 3 RBIs) in the series.

FIU is led offensively by freshmen Luis Rivera (.383 batting average, 0 HR, 36 RBIs) and Bryan Pullin (.347).

The Hurricanes have won six of seven three-game series at Mark Light Field this season. UM defeated FIU 12-7 earlier this season.

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