Baseball: Pitt Series Preview

The Miami Hurricanes have been on a tear since that disappointing series loss against Virginia at home last month. Looking ahead, they will have every opportunity to continue their run of good form, starting this weekend in their series against ACC newcomer Pittsburgh at Mark Light Field.

The Panthers will come into the series at 16-16 overall and 8-7 in league play. Their performance in ACC games has been uneven, to say the least. They performed about as expected against UNC (lost two of three), Virginia (lost two of three), and Duke (swept them), but they also have outlier series in sweeping Georgia Tech and being swept by Virginia Tech. Also worth noting is that last Friday in a game against Virginia, they were no-hit by the Cavaliers' starter Nathan Kirby.

Offensively, the Panthers are hitting .261 as a team. Junior first baseman Eric Hess leads the way with a .306 batting average and .402 on-base percentage. Not far behind is shortstop Dylan Wolsonovich, who is hitting .302 with a .397 on-base percentage and 19 RBI.

Pitt isn't a team that relies on power, but they do have some pop in certain spots. Center fielder Stephen Vranka is hitting .286 with nine doubles, four triples, two home runs and 19 RBI. Outfielder Casey Roche is hitting .285 with three home runs and 23 RBI.

The biggest power threat on the team, though, is Boo Vazquez. The 6'4", 220-pound junior is hitting just .244, but he leads the team in both home runs with five and RBI with 30.

Ultimately, the offense doesn't have to put up too many runs because the real strength of this Pitt team is on the mound.

The starter Miami will see on Friday night is Rhys Aldenhoven. So far this season, he is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA. In 46 innings, he has struck out 32 and walked 19. Last week against UVA, he pitched well, despite being let down by his defense. Although he allowed four runs in 5.2 innings, only one run was earned.

On Saturday, Joseph Harvey will take the mound. The redshirt junior from Audobon, Pennsylvania is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA. He has struck out 29 and walked 11 in 41 innings. Opposing batters are hitting just .226 against him. Last weekend against the Cavaliers, he was fantastic. He threw seven innings, giving up just two hits and one unearned run.

Matt Wotherspoon will be the starter on Sunday and he has struggled for much of the season. He will come into the series with a 3-4 record and a 5.96 ERA. He has struck out 34 and walked 14 in 45.1 innings. Opposing batters are hitting a robust .330 against him. With all that being said, he was also stellar last weekend against Virginia, albeit in a losing effort. All he did was throw seven innings, giving up four hits and one run with six strikeouts and two walks.

Those starters are pretty good, but the bullpen may be better, led by workhorses Hobie Harris and Jon Danielczyk. Harris has thrown 33.1 innings over 13 appearances with a 2.43 ERA and .133 batting average against. Danielczyk has appeared in 17 games, throwing 27.1 innings. He has struck out 26 and walked just three. The Panthers have also gotten solid work out of Luke Curtis (16.2 IP, 2.16 ERA, two saves) and Adam Dian (12.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, 14 K).

This series boils down to how well Miami swings the bats. Going up against Diaz, Suarez, and Radziewski, Pittsburgh just doesn't appear to have the offense to keep up if the Hurricanes are able to get to the Panthers' starters early in the game.

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