Diamond Notes: 4/18

News and notes from around the baseball team including injury updates, Tekotte's key to improving his batting average, Garcia's repertoire of pitches, and who won the race between Alonso and Raben.

Miami (22-16) lost two out of three against N.C. State over the weekend including a 19-9 defeat on Sunday. They will look to rebound against North Florida today and a weekend series at Virginia Tech (click here for more info on the Virginia Tech series).

The Hurricanes are 8-4 in their last 12 games.

MORRIS' YOUNGEST TEAM

Coach Jim Morris has never had a team this young in his 25 years of coaching Division I baseball. The team is mainly compiled of freshmen and sophomores especially in the lineup.

"We are very young," Morris said. "When you start a lot of freshmen and sophomores, it is a scary thing."

Freshmen and sophomores have scored 82 percent of the team's runs this year. Senior IF Roger Tomas is the only upperclassmen in the starting lineup.

"We are up and down a bit, but I think that is what you expect out of a young group of guys," Morris said. "I didn't expect we would have the record we have now. I was concerned, but I thought we'd have a better record that what we have right now."

WEEKS, ERICKSON COULD RETURN SOON

2B Jemile Weeks pulled a groin on March 25, but could return to the lineup this weekend after having his best workout in the weight room on Tuesday since his injury. Weeks has missed the last 11 games.

"There's a pretty good chance Jemile may play this weekend," Morris stated.

LHP Eric Erickson is looking to earn the start on Sunday. He has missed his last two starts with a sore arm after getting hit with a ball during warmups.

"We are hoping he will be able to pitch on Sunday and we feel like he is," Morris said. "We just wanted to give him some time off. It's not like he has a serious injury. We just wanted to make sure he wasn't sore at all before he went back out there."

GARCIA THROWS A COMPLETE GAME

RHP Enrique Garcia outdueled future first-round draft pick Andrew Brackman from N.C. State on Sunday as he threw a complete game despite warming up with tight legs. Garcia allowed just one run and five hits while striking out 12. He did not walk anyone.

"It was amazing and the whole game I just kept thinking maybe another inning," said Garcia, who threw 110 pitches. "It just felt great coming off of two starts where I didn't do what I wanted to do."

With the victory, Garcia improved to 3-2 on the season and has a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings. He has 39 strikeouts and has walked just 11.

The 6-foot-4 junior throws a 90-93 mph fastball that tops out at 96 and uses a splitter as his main off-speed pitch. He also throws a slider to keep hitters off balanced.

TEKOTTE'S SUCCESS A KEY

Sophomore OF Blake Tekotte is second on the team in hitting with a .357 batting average while driving in 20 runs and scoring 27 runs. He has hit one hone run and is tied for the team-lead with 11 stolen bases.

"I'm just feeling a lot more comfortable and have a lot more experience," Tekotte said. "I just know how the whole college things works out, which makes things a lot easier."

Last year, he batted .286 with four home runs, 30 RBI, and 35 runs.

One of the reasons for the improvement in his average has been his ability to stay inside on the ball as opposed to rolling over and grounding out to the right side of the infield.

"Now I feel like I can hit the ball to the shortstop or to center field, which gets me a lot more hits," said Tekotte, a lefthanded hitter.

After primarily playing left field as a freshman, Tekotte took over at center field this season. He leads the team with five outfield assists and has just one error.

"I definitely like center field a lot more than left field," Tekotte said. "I think it is a more natural position for me and I like to cover a lot of ground out there."

POWER HITTERS DECIDE TO RACE

Following Tuesday's practice 1B Yonder Alonso and OF Dennis Raben decided to race. The two sophomores are the team leaders in home runs—Alonso, 10 and Raben, 8—but they wanted to decide who was faster.

Alonso is tied for the team lead with 11 stolen bases and Raben has just two in two attempts.

The two set up the race in the outfield with their teammates watching. Alonso and Raben started at the right field line and raced 90 feet. Raben got off to an early lead and held on as he taunted Alonso towards the end of the race. Raben was greeted by a hug in the outfield by one of his teammates.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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