Canes Set For Tough Game Against Stetson

Coming off a series loss to Virginia Tech on the road, the Miami Hurricanes will undoubtedly be chomping at the bit to get back out on the field and get a win.

Unfortunately, that's not going to be easy to do. Coming to visit the Canes in Coral Gables will be the Stetson Hatters. The Hatters are always one of the better mid-major programs in the country, and while this version of the team isn't as good as previous versions, it's still a pretty solid club.

The Hatters will be coming into the game with a 23-12 record. Assuming they win the games they should the rest of the way in the Atlantic Sun, head coach Pete Dunn's team will be in good position for yet another bid into the NCAA tournament.

Like so many other Stetson teams, their success starts with top-end talent in their starting lineup.

Senior third baseman Ben Carhart has picked up where he left off last season. He's hitting .361 with four home runs and 28 RBI. Catcher Sam Kimmel has chipped in with a .331 average, 20 RBI and seven steals. Not to be outdone, second baseman Robert Crews is hitting .323 with 17 RBI and seven steals of his own.

The concern offensively for Stetson is that the production does dip a bit after those three. No other hitter is hitting above .280 and, all told, only two players, Carhart and Mark Jones, have more than two home runs.

On the mound, the Hatters have a 4.95 team ERA, but that's misleading. There are a couple of pitchers on their staff that have bloated that ERA quite a bit. On the whole, they have a very good pitching staff.

Their weekend rotation, led by Will Dorsey and Lindsey Caughal, is formidable. For most of the season, Kurt Schluter was the third starter in that rotation, but this past weekend, Austin Perez took his place. This is important because it might mean that the Canes will face Schluter on Wednesday night.

This season hasn't been anything to write home about for Schluter. He has a 4-2 record with a 5.88 ERA. His walks are also high, as he had issued 20 free passes in 41.1 innings pitched. But that doesn't paint an accurate picture of what Schluter is capable of. Last season, he went 8-0 with a 1.40 ERA, striking out 55 in 57.2 innings. He also only issued 18 walks all season. The other pitcher the Hurricanes might expect to face is freshman Josh Powers. He has split most of the midweek starts with Perez this season. Powers will come into Wednesday with a 1-1 and 2.78 ERA. His control has been just about masterful. He has struck out 16 hitters and only walked three in 22.2 innings.

The Stetson bullpen is led by Robbie Powell and Cameron Griffin. Griffin sports a 3.80 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched. Powell, the team's regular closer, has a 2.86 ERA and eight saves.

The Hurricanes haven't officially announced their starter either, but you can expect it to be Javi Salas. He has done a great job of filling the midweek starter role that was vacated by Steven Ewing when Ewing moved into the weekend rotation. Expect a solid start from Salas, as he has been nothing short of that in his other midweek starts, but you should expect the Stetson starter to be just as good.

The theme of the last several weeks has been the Canes' need to play solid, fundamental baseball to win. This game will be no different. Stetson is more than capable of beating Miami, even when UM is playing pretty good baseball, so they simply can't afford to give yet another lackluster performance.

I look for this to be a close game, as Stetson has the pitching to match Javi Salas, but I look for Miami to find a way to get a much-needed win.

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