Diamond Notes: 4/26

Inside the baseball team as they prepare for a three-game series against Florida State tomorrow.

Miami (26-17) will face Florida State (37-6) for a three-game series beginning on Friday at 7 p.m.

The second two games of the series will be televised live on Sun at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively.

The projected pitching matchups are as follows:

Friday: LHP Scott Maine (3-5, 3.43 ERA) vs. RHP Bryan Henry (10-0, 2.24 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Enrique Garcia (4-2, 2.67 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Strauss (8-1, 2.98 ERA)
Sunday: LHP Eric Erickson (5-3, 2.29 ERA) vs. TBA

Miami coach Jim Morris believes Florida State has their best team in the last 15 years.

"They are very solid, they know how to play the game, they are a veteran team, and they can pitch," Morris said.

While Morris will give FSU credit, he was quick to point our FSU's strength of schedule.

"They are hitting .364 as a team and we don't have any of our players hitting .365," Morris said. "But we have played a much tougher schedule than they have and that plays into it."

WEEKS AT DH

Jemile Weeks returned to the lineup last week and is 6-for-16 (.375) since his return to the starting lineup. Weeks started all three games in the weekend series at Virginia Tech before sitting out against Stetson.

"It felt real good to be back on the field," said Weeks, who missed 11 straight games. "I have been waiting for a while to get back. It was a relief and I was excited."

Weeks started in the middle of the order as a designated hitter, which will likely be his role until he feels comfortable enough to play in the field. He is still not 100 percent, but he can still be a weapon if he is in the lineup.

Weeks is batting .284 on the season with four home runs and 13 RBI.

A CATCHER NEEDS TO STEP UP

Freshman Jason Hagerty has started 23 games this season at catcher, but it was senior Richard O'Brien who received all three starts against Virginia Tech.

"I've been flip-flopping those guys to try to get somebody going and have somebody take charge," Morris said.

O'Brien responded with a 5-for-11 weekend with five RBI. On Saturday, he threw out two basestealers and picked off two guys.

"He was our player of the game on Saturday," Morris said.

It was a bright spot in a position that someone needs to step up with key games coming up.

Both O'Brien, .205 and Hagerty, .200 are struggling from the plate this season. The two have combined for just four extra-base hits in 158 at-bats.

Last year O'Brien hit .252 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 111 at-bats. One of the reasons O'Brien got off to a slow start this season was not playing summer baseball and he was hurt during fall practices.

"We need one of those guys to step up and we were hoping a veteran like him would be able to take that job," Morris said. "It is a position on the team that is very important to have a leader."

SOBOLEWSKI FINDING HIS POWER

3B Mark Sobolewski is starting to hit with power.

After hitting just one home run in the first 30 games, Sobolewski has hit three home runs in the last 13.

"I think I am seeing the ball better," Sobolewski said. "It's not like I am doing anything differently. Some people take longer to get their home run swing down, but I don't try to hit home runs. I just try to hit the ball hard and as of late, I have been hitting the ball harder as of late."

On the season Sobolewski is batting .345 with four home runs and 42 RBI. His 13 doubles leads the team.

He's looking forward to the big series against FSU.

"I can't wait," he said. "I think our team has a lot of good things going on and it is a good time for our team to play them. This is a crucial part of the year and I'm excited."

FRESHMAN SHORTSTOP STILL IMPROVING

Freshmen have had success in recent years under Morris including Ryan Braun (2003) and Jemile Weeks (2006).

While Jackson is not having the same type of years as Braun and Weeks, Morris believes Jackson will finish the season on a strong note.

"At the end of the year I think people will say that Ryan Jackson had a very good year for a freshman," Morris said. "He has made some mistakes as a freshman, but he is getting better and better."

Currently Jackson is batting .262 with no home runs and 19 RBI. He is known for his defensive ability and although he has a team-leading nine errors.

Christopher Stock can be reached at stock@canestime.com

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