Miami – N.C. State Breakdown

This weekend Miami hosts North Carolina State in a best-of-three series in the super regionals of the NCAA baseball tournament. The winner advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska beginning June 13. Miami enters this weekend ranked number 10 by Baseball America. North Carolina State is ranked ninth.

After winning the regional last week Miami head coach Jim Morris had some words for the fans, "I want to thank the crowd the ones that came out. I want to say, next weekend I expect it to be full, not half full, but full like it normally is and Mark Light. I don't care how hot it is. If our players can play two games in this heat our fans can handle the heat. We need everybody out here next week. We need a full house against N.C. State to show what its like to be at Miami and what its like to play in our ballpark. The thing I talk about that makes it so tough to play in our park is our fans. And we need a full house (Saturday) and the entire weekend. I'm asking them and I'm thanking the fans around here but we need a full house."

Here is a positional breakdown for the Miami Hurricanes and North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Catcher

Both teams have solid catchers who are solid defensively. Miami's Erick San Pedro had a good regional at the plate and keeping the ball in front of him. San Pedro's main role this weekend will be keeping the pitching staff under control. N.C. State's Colt Morton led the Wolfpack in homeruns with 19 and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Wilson Regional last weekend. Morton is a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award which goes to the top catcher in the country.

Advantage: N.C. State

First Base

A player for Miami who will be important to their success this weekend is Jim Burt. Burt struggled last weekend and looked impatient at the plate. He is a very hard worker who is solid defensively. Burt is second on the team in homeruns with ten. David Hicks is the first baseman for N.C. State. Hicks is batting .293 on the season and leads the team in doubles with 21.

Advantage: Miami

Second Base

Adam Ricks is the second baseman for Miami and bats second in the lineup. He is counted on to be a good hitter and comes through when he is asked to bunt. Ricks is batting .337 on the season with 52 RBI's. A solid defensive second baseman is good at turning the double play as well. For the Wolfpack, senior Adam Hargrave provides solid defensive leadership to the team. He is not a particularly good hitter who has to fight for his hits. Hargrave has only five extra base hits in 53 games this year.

Advantage: Miami

Shortstop

The Hurricanes best player is freshman Ryan Braun. Braun leads the team in average (.376) homeruns (15) and runs batted in (70). The freshman from California was named to the All-Regional team. Keeping him under control will be a key for N.C. State. Senior Chad Orvella is the shortstop for the Wolfpack. Orvella is a solid defensive player and has good power at the plate for a shortstop. He is one of six guys for N.C. State who have 10 or more stolen bases.

Advantage: Miami

Third Baseman

Both teams have solid third basemen. Freshman Gaby Sanchez has been solid at the plate batting .326 with 53 RBI's. Sanchez has struggled at times this season defensively with a fielding percent of just .867 however he looked solid in the regional making diving stops and starting numerous double plays. Jeremy Dutton is second on the team in batting average at .320. He is a good hitter with homerun power hitting 11 during the season.

Advantage: N.C. State

Left Field

Richard Giannotti played in left field last weekend during the regional and came through with two triples and a three-run homer. He suffered a leg injury which took him out of the game. Giannotti, when healthy is a solid hitter who has shown good power at the plate. Matt Camp leads the Wolfpack in batting average at .343. Although just a freshman, Camp has been inserted into the leadoff role and has responded with a good season.

Advantage: N.C. State

Center Field

The catalyst for the Miami offense is leadoff hitter Danny Figueroa. Figueroa finds ways to get on base either with his bat or drawing a walk. He leads the Hurricanes in stolen bases with 39 and has only been caught five times. Wolfpack centerfielder Marc Maynor also leads his team in stolen bases with 20. Maynor is good at tracking down fly balls and is one of two underclassmen in the N.C. State lineup.

Advantage: Miami

Right Field

The right fielders for both teams are important to their teams' success. Both right fielders had very good regionals last weekend and were named to their respective all-regional team. Brian Barton for Miami is batting .332 with seven homeruns and 50 RBI's. He is second on the team in stolen bases with 16. Barton is a good fielder as well. Joe Gaetti, son of former major leaguer Gary Gaetti, is a hard working player for N.C. State. Gaetti batted .271with 14 homeruns and 50 RBIs.

Advantage: No advantage

Designated Hitter

Joey Hooft will be the designated hitter for Miami. Hooft is batting .369 this season with 26 RBIs. He could play the outfield if Giannotti is not able to play. Justin Riley will be the designated hitter for North Carolina State. Riley does not hit for a good average but has hit 17 homeruns and 17 doubles. He was named to the all-regional team last weekend.

Advantage: N.C. State

Starting Pitchers

Miami got one of the best pitching performances in postseason school history last weekend by LHP J.D. Cockroft as he through a one-hit shutout over Florida Atlantic. Cockroft is 11-2 with a 2.20 era and is the number one starter for the Hurricanes. RHP Vince Bongiovanni (7-4, 3.95 ERA) has had a solid sophomore season and looks to pick up another quality start this weekend. Bongiovanni is averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. LHP Brandon Camardese has had a good season as well but has struggled at times against quality opponents. Camardese (9-1, 5.03 ERA) had a rough outing last weekend against Florida.

The Wolfpack starting pitchers are no slouch either. Vern Sterry was named first-team All-America by Collegiate Baseball. The junior right-hander is a perfect 11-0 with a 3.04 ERA. Sterry will be starter for game two. Starting game one for Wolfpack will be Freshman RHP Michael Rogers who was named to the all-regional team with his performance over Le Moyne. Rogers is now 12-3 on the season with a 2.64 ERA. He was named second team All-ACC. If the series goes to a game three, LHP Nate Cretarolo will be the starting pitcher for N.C. State. Cretarolo is 5-3 on the season with a 4.78 ERA.

Advantage: N.C. State

Bullpen

The Miami bullpen has been a weakness all season long. Closer George Huguet (3-2, 1.52 ERA) broke his hand while punching a locker but might be able to pitch on Sunday. If Huguet can come back and pitch effectively, it would be a huge benefit for the Hurricanes. Shaun Valdes-Fauli has filled in for Huguet the past two weeks and has pitched extremely well. Valdes-Fauli pitched the last 3.2 innings in the regional championship game. LHP Israel Chirino and RHP Marcelo Albir will be counted on out of the bullpen as well.

North Carolina State closer Joey Devine has been one of the top closers in the country. Devine was named first-team All-ACC this season as a freshman. He has recorded 14 saves, a 2.03 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 62 innings. RHP Phillip Davidson will also look to carry the load out of the bullpen as well. N.C. State is 38-2 when leading after seven innings.

Advantage: N.C. State

Coaching

Head coach Jim Morris is in his 10th year at Miami. At Miami he has won 10 regionals and advanced to the College World Series seven times and won the National Championship in 1999 and 2001. Morris is considered to be one of the better coaches to ever coach college baseball. Elliott Avent is in his seventh year at North Carolina State and has advanced to the NCAA tournament four times.

Advantage: Miami

Intangibles

The Miami Hurricanes are 71-11 in the postseason at home. Mark Light field is always a tough place to play for opposing teams because of Miami's success at home. All three games this weekend will be during the day and a very hot and humid weekend is in store. Miami is used to playing in the heat and it could cause problems for North Carolina State.

Advantage: Miami

Overall Analysis: Both teams look to be fairly evenly matched. The Miami Hurricanes bat for a better average as a team but North Carolina State has more home run hitters. They key for this super-regional match up will be pitching. It is imperative for both teams to get quality starts from their starting pitchers so they don't have to use their bullpens. Timely hitting and solid defensive play will also be areas of focus for these two teams. Playing at home will help the Miami Hurricanes and they should defeat the Wolfpack in three games to advance to the College World Series.

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