Do or die for Canes

Before the University of Miami departed for the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., sophomore catcher Erick San Pedro vowed that the Hurricanes could not afford to get sloppy if they intended to bring back a national championship to Coral Gables.

"The pressure obviously is turned on because you're playing for the national championship," said San Pedro. "But we have to go out there and continue to do the things that got us to this point. We need to get good pitching, clutch hitting and make the plays on defense."

Saturday against Texas the Hurricanes did none of the above, putting Miami in an unfamiliar position for the first time in a long time - facing elimination.

The Hurricanes (44-16-1) are down to their last chance in this year's CWS as they take on Southwest Missouri State (40-24) in a loser's bracket elimination game this afternoon at Rosenblatt Stadium (2 p.m., ESPN 2).

Miami, coming off a 13-2 loss to Texas in the opening round, the Hurricanes most lopsided defeat in the CWS since a 12-2 defeat to the Longhorns in 1989, has not gone winless in Omaha since 1979. Saturday's defeat to the Longhorns snapped Miami's eight-game winning streak in the CWS. The Hurricanes last defeat in Omaha was to Long Beach State in 1998.

"We played one of the ugliest games I've ever seen," said UM coach Jim Morris. "You can't play the way we did and expect to get away with it, especially in the College World Series against the Texas Longhorns."

The Hurricanes matched a season-high with five errors, including two by freshman third baseman Gaby Sanchez that ignited a five-run top of the second inning for the Longhorns. Left-handed ace J. D. Cockroft suffered the worse outing of his career, allowing 10 runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings pitched, while the Hurricanes offense was limited to seven hits.

"We're too good a team to let one game bring us down," said right-fielder Brian Barton, who was one of the few bright spots Saturday night with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate. "It's done and there is nothing we can do about it. We just have to get ready to play the next game."

Southwest Missouri State offense also struggled in their CWS opener with just one hit in the first eight innings against Rice starting pitcher Jeff Nieman on Saturday. Right-fielder Greg Mathis and pinch hitter Jacob Higendorf delivered back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning but by then it was too late to dig the Bears out of a hole.

Miami will rest their hopes on the shoulders of left-hander Brandon Camardese (9-1, 4.95 ERA). Camardese is coming off a five-inning outing against N. C. State in game two of the super regional in which he allowed two runs on one hit, while striking out four batters. The Bears will counter with junior right-hander Bob Zimmermann. Southwest Missouri State is led offensively by seniors Dant'e Brinkley (.349, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 24 SB) and Tony Piazza (.306, 15 HR, 55).

The only previous meeting between UM and Southwest Missouri State was in a 1996 regional. Miami came away with an 8-2 victory. Miami is 43-31 all-time in CWS history.

The UM/SMS winner will advance to play the Texas/Rice loser tomorrow night at 8 p.m.

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