Canes set to open 2010 season

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The 12th-ranked University of Miami baseball team will open its 2010 season this weekend, playing host to Rutgers in a three-game series, Feb. 19-21, at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

The Hurricanes, coming off a record 37th straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009, will begin their quest for a 12th College World Series appearance under head coach Jim Morris in the season-opener Friday night at 7 p.m.

Miami will send two of the nation's top left-handed hurlers to the mound in the first two games against the Scarlet Knights, with juniors Eric Erickson and Chris Hernandez taking the ball on Friday and Saturday night respectively. Erickson, who returns after missing the entire 2009 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, will go up against Rutgers' right-hander Casey Gaynor in the opener for both squads on Friday. Hernandez will square off against left-hander Dennis Hill Saturday night while senior right-hander Jason Santana is slated to take the mound on Sunday in the series finale against right-hander Willie Beard. Erickson, Hernandez and Santana enter the season with a combined career record of 51-12 at UM.

Offensively for the ‘Canes, it starts with All-ACC performers Yasmani Grandal and Scott Lawson. Grandal - a preseason All-America selection at catcher - led all ACC catchers and ranks third among all returning players in the league having hit 16 home runs a season ago. Lawson, UM's top returning hitter, is back at the top of UM's lineup after hitting .333 a season ago.

The ‘Canes also feature a number of newcomers expected to see significant playing time early on, including shortstop Stephen Perez, centerfielder Zeke DeVoss and leftfielder Chris Pelaez.

A familiar face in senior right-hander David Gutierrez is set to take over the closer's role after the departure of All-American Kyle Bellamy. Gutierrez, whose older brother Carlos served as Miami's closer during its CWS run in 2008, is UM's most experienced pitcher having appeared in 62 games in his career.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

GAME 1: FRIDAY, FEB. 19, 7 p.m.

PROBABLE STARTERS

MIAMI - LHP Eric Erickson vs. RUTGERS - RHP Casey Gaynor

RADIO: 560 QWAM, 90.5 WVUM, 1450 ESPN DEPORTES

GAME 2: SATURDAY, FEB. 20, 7 p.m.

PROBABLE STARTERS

MIAMI - LHP Chris Hernandez vs. RUTGERS - LHP Dennis Hill

RADIO: 560 QWAM, 90.5 WVUM

GAME 3: SUNDAY, FEB. 21, 1 p.m.

PROBABLE STARTERS

MIAMI - RHP Jason Santana vs. RUTGERS - RHP Willie Beard

RADIO: 90.5 WVUM

RUTGERS REPORT

The Scarlet Knights return nearly their entire team from last season, including 10 of its top 11 hitters and its entire weekend rotation. Outfielder Michael Lang led the team in hitting (.343), runs (58) and homers (8) in 2009 while first baseman Jaren Matthews (.328, team-high 30 walks) and outfielder Pat Biserta (.326, team-high 18 doubles) are also back. Right-hander Casey Gaynor (2-9, 5.57 ERA) was the only hurler to start double-digit games last season (13) while Dennis Hill (1-3, 6.75) and Willie Beard (4-4, 6.30) each started eight games a season ago. The only key player missing from last year's team is closer Ryan Beard, who is likely to be replaced by Kevin Lillis or Nathaniel Roe.

MIAMI-RUTGERS ALL-TIME SERIES

Miami owns a 41-11 advantage over Rutgers in the all-time series between the two schools. The ‘Canes have won eight of the last nine meetings with the Scarlet Knights, including taking three of four games last season in Coral Gables in the season-opening series for both teams.

AFTER RUTGERS

Following this weekend's series with the Scarlet Knights, the ‘Canes will remain at Alex Rodriguez Park for a mid-week game against Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday, Feb. 24 before playing host to Manhattan in a three-game series, Feb. 26-28. The game against FGCU on Wednesday is slated to start at 6 p.m.

‘CANES RANKED IN TOP 20 IN FOUR MAJOR POLLS

The 2010 Hurricanes are opening the 2010 campaign ranked in the Top 20 in the four traditional major polls, coming in at No. 12 in both the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball polls, No. 13 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and No. 16 in Baseball America's poll. The only major poll the ‘Canes are opening the season outside of the Top 20 is Rivals.com, who has Miami at No. 21 to start the season.

GRANDAL EARNS NUMEROUS ALL-AMERICA HONORS

Junior catcher Yasmani Grandal has earned a number of preseason All-America honors this season, including first team honors by Collegiate Baseball and second team honors by Baseball America. Grandal emerged last season as one of the top power hitters in the Atlantic Coast Conference, leading the Hurricanes and all ACC catchers with 16 home runs. The Miami native led the `Canes with a 1.081 OPS in 2009 en route to earning All-ACC second team honors. He finished his sophomore season ranking second on the team in slugging percentage (.599) and total bases (118), while collecting 45 RBI and 48 runs scored in 59 games.

ERICKSON RETURNS

Junior left-hander Eric Erickson is back this year after missing the entire 2009 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Erickson, who earned All-ACC honors in each of his first two seasons in Coral Gables, joins fellow All-ACC left-hander Chris Hernandez at the front of Miami's rotation this season. In two seasons with the Hurricanes (2007 & 2008), Erickson compiled a record of 19-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 168 innings.

CLOSER WITH A FAMILIAR NAME

Just two seasons after his brother Carlos served as Miami's closer during the team's College World Series run in 2008, senior right-hander David Gutierrez has moved into the closer's role in 2010, replacing All-America right-hander Kyle Bellamy. David not only follows in his brother's footsteps, but he takes over a role filled by one of Miami's most dominant relievers all-time in Bellamy. In three seasons in Coral Gables, David has appeared in a staff-high 62 games, making 20 starts and 42 relief appearances.

MICHAELS TO BE HONORED FRIDAY NIGHT

Former Hurricane and current big leaguer Jason Michaels will be honored prior to the season-opener Friday night as he is set to be inducted into the UM Hall of Fame this year. Michaels, who hit .396 with 34 home runs and 154 RBI in his two seasons in Coral Gables, still holds UM records for doubles in a season (32 in 1997) and total bases in a season (189 in 1997). He has played for four teams in his nine seasons in Major League Baseball, collecting 535 hits, 263 RBI and 299 runs in his career. Last season, he played in 102 games with Houston Astros.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ PARK RENOVATIONS

Renovations to Alex Rodriguez Park continued throughout the offseason, as new bleachers were added down both the left and right field lines. In addition to increased seating capacity, a new scoreboard was constructed in place of the previous one in left field.

TICKET INFO

Single game and season tickets are currently available for the 2010 University of Miami season. Single game prices start as low as $10, while season tickets start at $100. Group packages are also available. For more information or to order your tickets for Hurricanes baseball, visit www.hurricanesports.com or call 1-800-GO-CANES.


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