Baseball Series Preview vs Mercer

The University of Miami baseball team will play Mercer this weekend to open the 2007 season.

Probable Batting Order for Miami

1st 2B Jemile Weeks
2nd SS Roger Tomas
3rd 1B Yonder Alonso
4th OF Dennis Raben
5th DH Mark Sobolewski
6th OF Nick Freitas
7th OF Blake Tekotte
8th C Richard O'Brien
9th 3B Gus Menendez

Last season, Mercer compiled a 34-26 record and finished third in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bears return seven starters in the field and six pitchers from last year's team.

Highlights from Mercer's 2006 season include a win over Atlantic Sun champion, Jacksonville, at the conference tournament, defeating then No. 1 Florida 3-2 at Gainesville, and taking a game at then No. 1 Clemson.

Mercer's strength is in their pitching staff, where Brantley New (9-3, 3.60 ERA) has returned for his senior season after being drafted in the 27th round by the Boston Red Sox in this year's draft.

New threw 95 strikeouts in 100 innings last season. New will face off against LHP Manny Miguelez (8-4, 4.31 ERA) in Friday night's game. Friday night's start will be the first Friday night start of Miguelez's career.

"I am excited about being the Friday starter," Miguelez said. I feel like all of our starters could be Friday guys. It is always a big deal to be the Friday guy, but that does not take away from the other starters."

RHP senior Danny Gil (4-3, 2.66), who started the 2006 season as a reliever and finished strong in a starting role, will be the Hurricanes starter on Saturday going up against Blake Quarles (4-2, 5.33).

On Sunday, freshman Eric Erickson will get the first start of his career, entering the starting rotation due to the suspension of Scott Maine.

The highest rated prospect on Mercer's team is junior college transfer pitcher Cory Gearrin in a closer role. In the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League, Gearrin earned all-star honors with a 2-1 record and a 1.67 ERA, eight saves, and 41 strikeouts in 27 innings.

Leading the Mercer offense this season will be all-conference selection, catcher Josh Thompson. In 2006, Thompson hit .332 and led the Atlantic Sun in home runs (15) and finished fourth in the conference in RBIs (53).

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

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