Miami has ended Florida's season the last three years including a sweep in the Super Regionals last year in Coral Gables. That hasn't stopped the Gators from talking.
Senior pitcher Tommy Boss and junior shortstop Justin Tordi had plenty to say about the Hurricanes in a February 11 article in the Miami Herald. Did any of the ‘Canes read their comments? You better believe it.
John McLean, who grew up in Miami and knows a number of people at Florida, is ready to silence their rivals this weekend, which begins Friday at 6:30 in Gainesville.
"We are all looking forward to the series," McLean said. "Florida is a good team and we are looking forward to taking it to them. But they have been running their mouth enough and it is time to shut them up."
McLean is a tough reliever with plenty of confidence in his abilities. He has a swagger about himself that is much needed on a baseball team. He is well respected by his teammates and have welcomed him to the team since he arrived in January.
"Everyone has been real cool and everyone treats each other fairly including the coaches," McLean said.
He spent his first two years at Miami-Dade Community College after playing his high school ball at Palmetto High, where he primarily played first base. While at Miami-Dade he won the Fireman Award—given to the Pitcher of the Year—recording an ERA of 0.90 and five saves.
Growing up near the University of Miami, he dreamt of playing for the Hurricanes. However, they did not recruit him until he made a name for himself.
"I put together two good years and continued to work hard," McLean said. "Things just worked out for me and now I am here."
He has a unique delivery as he drops down to the side giving hitters a tough look at his release. Miami head coach Jim Morris likes to bring him out of the bullpen in tough situations to give opposing hitters a new look.
Seven games into the season, McLean has made a team-high four appearances. He has a 2.84 ERA in 6.1 innings and has struck out eight batters—good for the second-best strikeout per nine innings ratio on the team.
"I feel good when I have been out there on the mound," McLean said. "The big crowds are always nice. It gives you a lot of confidence when they are cheering for you."
Why has he had the early season success?
"I have been throwing strikes and going right at hitters," McLean said.
It is something that he will continue to do this weekend. After all, that is what tough relievers do.
Christopher Stock is a Staff Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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