Gil Starting the Opener

Right-handed pitcher Danny Gil is making his first start since February 12 tonight at 8:05 p.m. at the Lincoln Regional against San Francisco. Miami (36-21) will be attempting to win their 14th straight regional.

RHP Danny Gill will be making his third start of the season and has a 1-1 record and a 3.00 ERA in his two previous starts.

On the season, Gil is 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA, which ranks second on the team behind closer Chris Perez.

Gil is also second on the team in batting average allowed, .208 and has 46 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings.

One thing Gil will need to be pay close attention to is walking and hitting batters, which has hurt him throughout the season. An encouraging sign for Gil is that he has allowed just one home run in 179 at-bats this year.

The 6-foot 3, 200-pound junior is excited for the opportunity.

"I think it is an opportunity for me to shine and I want to take full advantage of it," Gil said. "The team needs me right now."

Gil has one thing on his mind as Miami makes its 34th straight NCAA tournament apperance and attempts to win their 14th straight regional.

"All I want to do is win a national championship and I will do whatever it takes," Gil said.

Confidence will not be a problem for Gil who will be making his third career start compared to 83 relief appearances.

"I feel the same confidence as a starter as I do as a reliever," he said. "It is the same game. I just pitch for a little bit longer. It is the same thing and I just take it one pitch at a time."

His catcher, Eddy Rodriguez, who recently was named one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, is confident in his starter.

"When he is on the hill, he is all business and he is a very energetic pitcher," said Rodriguez, who has played three years at UM with Gil.

Head coach Jim Morris is rolling the dice once again and will start someone other than their ace in the first game.

"I'd be happy if he could pitch five innings and get us into the bullpen and get a ‘W'," Morris said.

Last year Gil battled through a hernia injury that bothered him for the majority of the season. The way his body feels now compared to last year is "night and day". He kept battling because he didn't want to let his team down. If he takes that kind of mentality to the mound tonight, UM will win their 10th straight regional opener.

San Francisco will start LHP Scott Cousins (4-2, 3.40 ERA), the 2006 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, who is also the team's top hitter with a .357 batting average.

USF will be making their first regional appearance and the team will be cautious of being too nervous.

"If we don't get caught up in the atmosphere and the fact that we are playing a great team like Miami that has been in this thing 34 straight years and realize that we're just playing baseball, everything will go a lot smoother," said Cousins in yesterday's press conference. "If I can just pitch my game that's going to help our team out so much more."

Cousins gave up six runs and 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings in his last start on May 26 against #20 Pepperdine. He struck out four and walked one.

PLAYING AT NIGHT

The Hurricanes are playing at night against USF who are 3-3 this season in night games, while Nebraska, the regional host, is playing at 2:05.

The regionals are set-up to have the 1-4 matchup in the first time slot, but the host has the right to change the game to night if they feel it will help them with attendance.

Morris, for one, is glad the Hurricanes are playing at night.

"Evidently there is nothing to do during the day and they can all come to the game at 1 o'clock and watch them play and have a sellout," Morris said.

Assuming Nebraska wins, it will also give them more rest time for the 8:05 winners game on Saturday.

If Miami faces Nebraska in the second game, the Hurricanes will send LHP Scott Maine (10-3, 4.53 ERA) to the mound.


Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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