Miami Takes on Nebraska in Super Regionals

The University of Miami's challenge this weekend as it travels to Lincoln to face off with the third-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers is four-fold, and if the ‘Canes can overcome what they are faced with, favorites in Omaha is something they will be considered.

The ‘Canes, riding a three-game winning streak, as they cruised through the Coral Gables Regional, knocked off blazing hot SEC Champion Mississippi State.

Now, they get a chance to face the Big 12 Champion Nebraska, another squad that has been rolling down the stretch, having won eight in a row and 13 of 14.

The ‘Huskers, 54-13, have the best starting pitching in the country.

Nebraska's four starting pitchers, Johnny Dorn, Brian Duensing, Zach Kroenke and Joba Chamberlain are as tough as it gets with none of them having higher than 2.86 ERA that Chamberlain possesses.

Combined they are 34-5 with a 2.52 ERA. As a team, the ‘Huskers have an ERA of 2.62, good for second best in the nation behind Long Beach State.

That's challenge Number 1.

After the ‘Canes went through a serious hitting slump that found them scraping together only 14 runs over the final six games of the regular season and ACC Tournament and struggled to put runs on the board with their bats in the first two games of the Coral Gables Regional, UM exploded for 15 hits in their 10-4 win over the Bulldogs.

"There's not doubt it's huge for us to score like we did together," UM's Ryan Bruan said. "I can't remember the last time we scored double digits. It definitely gives us a lot of confidence going to Nebraska."

And confidence is key for the ‘Canes, who are 11th in the nation in batting with a team average of .324 and 13th in runs per game with 8.1.

Opponents are hitting only .211 against ‘Huskers pitching. It will be a battle of the old cliché "good pitching beats good hitting". Hopefully this weekend, that cliché will prove to be incorrect.

The ‘Canes simply must put the ball in the play and let the rest happen as it may. They can't press to score runs, simply let it come naturally.

That's challenge Number 2.

Beyond ‘Huskers pitching, the ‘Canes are taking to the road, something that hasn't been too kind to the ‘Canes this season.

The ‘Canes lost their last six games away from Mark Light Field and were 11-8-1 on the road this year.

What do they have to do different to make that a different tune in Lincoln at Hawks Field, one that will have more than 8,500 fans cheering against them?

On top of that, the ‘Canes will have to do something that only one team all year has been able to do while Nebraska has amassed a 31-4 record in its friendly confines.

Beat Nebraska two times in three games that only Texas has done at Hawks Field.

"We will go in there a lot more focused than we were towards the end of the season," Braun said. "We know what's at stake. Omaha is on the line. This isn't like a regular season or ACC Tournament game. We have to win."

But can a team simply turn the focus on and off? That question remains to be seen.

That's challenge Number 3.

History is also not on the ‘Canes side as the only two times that Miami hasn't hosted the Super Regional it has failed to advance to Omaha.

In 2000, the ‘Canes took to the road facing off with Florida State. They lost that Super Regional 2-1, winning the second game of the series.

In 2002, the ‘Canes met with top-ranked South Carolina in the Columbia Super Regional.

After splitting the first two games, the ‘Canes were in the driver's seat to advance to Omaha, but a bullpen meltdown cost them in the ninth inning as they blew a 4-1 lead three outs from Omaha, falling 6-4.

Can the ‘Canes change recent history and put in their favor?

That's challenge Number 4.

With those challenges sitting before them, the one advantage these ‘Canes have over past teams is regardless of the fact Nebraska has overall better pitching, UM has the best pitcher on either team in Cesar Carrillo who is heading to Lincoln with a 13-2 record and a 2.22 ERA.

If the ‘Canes can win the first game Friday afternoon, they'll take control of the series. Doing that will put the ‘Huskers in a precarious position because it could make them tight, nervous and who knows what else emotion one is facing when faced with the possibility of elimination.

Super Regional Schedule

Friday – UM at Nebraska, 1:05pm

Saturday – UM at Nebraska, 12:05pm

Sunday – UM at Nebraska, 4:050pm, if necessary

All games will be on Comcast Sports Southeast

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