UM Prepares for Series with Wake Forest

Coming into the season, you wouldn't have thought that this weekend's upcoming series between Miami and Wake Forest would be all that important.

If anything, you might have figured that Miami would be looking to pad their record on their way to getting a top eight national seed or maybe that Wake Forest was solidifying their spot as a part of the ACC tournament.

Instead, Miami is trying to stay above .500 in conference play and Wake Forest finds themselves with a shot at getting into the NCAA tournament with a hot finish to the season.

Wake comes into this series with a 9-15 record in conference play, but with a 27-20 overall record and an RPI in the top 40.

The Demon Deacons are led by their solid pitching staff. The duo of Brian Holmes and Tim Cooney consistently give the team solid starts on the weekends.

Holmes, the team'S Friday starter, is 6-2 with a 3.08 ERA. Batters have only managed a .217 average off of him.

Cooney has a tough-luck 5-5 record, but he sports a 3.43 ERA and has struck out 75 hitters in 78.2 innings.

In the bullpen, the Deacs are led by a host of versatile arms.

Sophomore righty Nate Jones has a 1.20 ERA in 30 innings pitched. Michael Dimrock, the team's regular closer, has a 3.54 ERA and 11 saves. Jack Fischer, once a bullpen stalwart, has been getting looks in the weekend rotation of late. Fischer has a 3.54 ERA and a .243 batting average against.

Offensively, Wake Forest has had its share of struggles. As a team, they have a .263 batting average, but that's not to say that they don't have some standouts.

Sophomore Conor Keniry leads the team with a .314 batting average. He gets on base at a .401 clip and has stolen ten bases. Evan Stephens and Pat Blair are hitting .306 and .303, respectively. Both players also boast on-base percentages over .400. Stephens has 11 steals and Blair leads the team with 18 stolen bases.

Much of the power in the Wake Forest lineup comes from two men, Mac Williamson and Carlos Lopez. Williamson, a redshirt junior center fielder, leads the team with 14 home runs and is second on the team with 42 RBI. Not to be outdone, Lopez has eight homers and leads the team with 43 RBI. Together, these two account for 22 of the team's 36 total home runs.

The key for the Hurricanes, as it has been since Peter O'Brien was lost to injury, will be making sure they score enough runs to help out their pitching staff. The rotation of Erickson, Whaley and Ewing has been going strong and if they keep Williamson and Lopez from beating them, they will be in good shape.

I've been way too optimistic about Miami over the last few weeks as they continued to lose games on the weekends and maybe I'm just going to continue that, but I'll be looking for a series win here. Miami is the more talented team and they should be able to win two of three.

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