HURRICANES IN OMAHA
The Miami Hurricanes are in the College World Series for the 22nd time in school history.
Miami advanced to Omaha after winning the Oxford Super Regional against Mississippi in three games.
After Ole Miss won the first game, Miami battled back to win game two.
Game three wasn't decided until the seventh inning when 3B Danny Valencia hit a grand slam giving the Hurricanes a five-run lead. Miami won the game 14-9 while Valencia had 2 home runs and 7 RBI.
Head coach Jim Morris has coached for 29 years, but has never felt as much intensity in a dugout as he did during that game.
With the Super Regional behind them, the team practiced for the first time in Omaha yesterday afternoon in preparation for tonight's game against Oregon State.
"It is a great atmosphere out here as it is every year," Morris said. "Great fans, great anticipation, great energy, and the team that is able to channel the energy in the right direction and focus is the team that is going to win."
Morris has guided the team to 10 appearances in the College World Series in his 13 years including two national championships (1999 and 2001).
It will be important for Morris to get the youngest team he has ever taken to the CWS to channel their energy in the right direction.
"I talk to them about that all the time," Morris said. "It is very important to focus, to have a lot of energy, but make sure you realize where you are at and channel that energy while playing the same way that got you here."
Miami is just the fourth team in the past six years that has advanced to the CWS and did not host a regional. With a 41-22 record, they have the lowest winning percentage amongst the eight CWS teams.
"We are the underdog right now," said Morris, who is 19-13 at the CWS. "It is kind of good being the underdog. Our guys are playing with a chip on their shoulders."
MAINE LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK
LHP Scott Maine (11-3, 4.89) will make his 18th start of the season tonight.
Last week against Ole Miss, Maine gave up eight runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out four.
"He doesn't normally beat himself, you have to beat him," Morris said. "I looked at the tape against Ole Miss when they beat him and they were good pitches that they hit off of him."
There was no question that Morris would pitch Maine in game one.
"Scott has been our number one guy the last two months," Morris said. "He got roughed up a bit in the last outing, but other than that he has pitched very, very well."
Maine is excited to take the mound in the Canes first game in Omaha.
"My confidence level is high," Maine said. "I am here in Omaha pitching the first game. It is a big game. We have to start off with a win and hopefully I can do that."
Maine has a game plan he wants to execute in attacking the Oregon State hitters.
"I have got to locate the fastballs," Maine said. "Supposedly this team struggles with the inside fastball so I have to throw the inside fastball for strikes. And the change-up--they struggle with off-speed stuff so I have got to throw it for strikes and locate the fastball in then I should be all right."
Miami is playing the last of the opening games, which could be beneficial for the Canes.
"I think it is definitely good because we get to go see the atmosphere," said Maine, who will be making his first CWS appearance. "We get to go see how things are laid out. It is a different atmosphere compared to anywhere else in the United States at Omaha especially with 25,000 fans in the stands. So it is definitely an advantage to go watch games before we actually have to play."
JAY REMAINS HOT
CF Jon Jay is batting .522 in the NCAA Tournament with an on-base percent of .607.
As one of the leaders on the team he wants to continue to succeed in pressure situations.
"I always want to lead by example especially for the younger guys," Jay said. "All they have to do is believe. If you believe then you can do it. That is how we have been as a team. We just all believe in each other and we can do it."
Jay believes the team has battled through adversity throughout the year, but have fought through it on their way to Omaha.
"We got swept a couple of times, not being ranked at the beginning of the year, we have had a lot of injuries, but we have fought through it," Jay said. "It just shows how our character is here."
The Hurricanes are averaging 10 runs per game in the NCAA Tournament and batting .355 as a team.
"We feel good," said Jay, who leads the team with a .361 batting average. "I think everyone is feeding off each other. Once someone gets on base we know we have to get the job done. Right now we have to do whatever it takes. If our pitchers give up 20 runs, we have to put up 22 runs. We don't want to have any excuses if our pitchers give up a lot of runs, we have got to get it done ourselves."
GILES CAME UP BIG IN OXFORD
It was RF Tommy Giles who came up with the big hit for Miami in game three against Ole Miss last weekend.
While Valencia receives credit for stretching the lead, it was Giles who singled home a run with two outs to give Miami a 9-8 lead setting the table for the Valencia grandslam.
Giles, a left-handed hitter, hit a 2-2 slider up the middle off of LHP Garrett White.
Since moving up to the two spot in the batting order on April 29, the Canes have been scoring more runs.
In the 20 games Giles was moved up the offense has scored 8.6 runs per game compared to 6.5 per game. Miami is 14-6 since the move.
"It sets up well for Jay and Valencia to get a lot of RBIs because he has gotten on base and has had some big hits," Morris said.
FRESHMEN IN THE LINEUP
Morris hinted at the fact that four freshman would be in the lineup in tonight's game, which means both OFs Dennis Raben and Blake Tekotte will be in the lineup along with 2B Jemile Weeks and 1B Yonder Alonso.
Tekotte is batting .471 (8-for-17) in the NCAA Tournament with 3 extra base hits and 3 RBI.
Raben has hit 2 home runs in the tournament and has an on-base percent of .393.
Weeks leads the team in extra base hits with 31--17 doubles, 8 triples, and 6 home runs.
Alonso leads the team in home runs (10), RBIs (69), and is the co-leader in doubles (18).
C Richard O'Brien (.252-5-22) and IF Gus Menendez (.294-1-12) are also candidates to be in the starting lineup if Raben or Tekotte is held out.
TOMAS STEADY AT SS
SS Roger Tomas has decreased his errors this season, 4, compared to 18 last year and in turn improved his fielding percent, .930 to .976.
The dramatic difference has been beneficial for the Hurricanes and Tomas continues to do the little things in the lineup as well.
"He plays solid defense that is consistent," Morris said. "He is a total team guy that will do whatever it takes to move guys on base or bunt them over."
In 2004, Tomas was named to the College World Series All-Tournament team after hitting .450 in three games.
Tomas is batting .301 in 45 games this season.
CLEMSON AND NORTH CAROLINA
Clemson (53-14) scored eight runs in the eighth inning to defeat Georgia Tech (50-17) 8-4 in the first game of the CWS.
Clemson head coach Jack Leggett started RHP Sean Clark and still has three starting pitchers with nine wins and ERAs under 3.00.
In the night game, North Carolina defeated Cal State Fullerton, 7-5 in 13 innnings.
Clemson and North Carolina will play Sunday at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Georgia Tech and Cal State Fullerton will play Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET. The loser will be eliminated from the tournament.
Christopher Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diamond Notes: June 17th
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