Series Preview: UNC vs. Miami

The No. 2-ranked Tar Heels travel to Coral Gables, Fla. to take on No. 1-ranked Miami (44-8, 22-3 ACC) at Mark Light Field for a three-game series beginning Thursday night that will conclude the regular season.

Talk with UNC baseball fans on Inside Carolina's Diamond Heels Message Board
May 15 - 7 p.m
May 16 - 7 p.m.
May 17 - 1 p.m.

Media Coverage:
The Tar Heel Sports Network - via AM-1360 Chapel Hill, AM-850 Raleigh and AM-1150 Burlington -- will broadcast all three games. Additionally, all three games will be televised - Thursday and Friday by Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast and Saturday by Fox Sports Net South. CSS is only available in North Carolina in the Asheville market. Additionally, the games will be broadcast in the Miami area on 90.5 FM and 560 AM. Follow the game action and chat with fellow Tar Heels online throughout the weekend at Inside Carolina's Diamond Heels Message Board.


Senior pitcher Tyler Trice -
"We are pumped … we have a chance to do something special and it should mean a lot. We have a great group of guys so it should be exciting. We are going to do nothing differently [against Miami], we have had a lot of success on the mound this year as a team as a whole. Our biggest goal is to pound the strike zone, just try to get their hitters out... the best hitters in baseball get themselves out seven out of ten times - we are going to try to do better than that."

Sophomore pitcher Alex White -
"Everyone is looking forward to the Miami series, it is a big series – No. 1 versus No. 2. We cannot catch them in the standings, but it is a big series heading into the postseason and the ACC tournament, try to get some momentum going into both. They are a great team and we are looking forward to going down there."

"I have to throw strikes and stay down in the zone, concentrate on not giving up the big inning against their great offense, minimize them getting runners on and keep them to one or two runs. Me and Tim are going to work together … Miami has great speed too and we are going to do the same thing (we did at Virginia), pick off a lot and make sure they do not get good jumps."

Senior outfielder Kyle Shelton -
"Pitching and defense is going to be key to this series. They have an unbelievable offense. They have first-rounders up and down the lineup."

Head Coach Mike Fox -
"It's May and there is no school and it is late in the year. It will be a fun series... I really don't think we have any pressure on us because of what we have done to this point. I don't know that we can really help or hurt ourselves honestly. I think that we want to go and show them that we can play with the best team in the country, which I think they are and they have proven that so far. We are in their backyard so it will be a tough task but we will try to go down there and enjoy the one-two matchup."

"It is not just their statistics, they just beat everybody. They are a well rounded team. What gets lost with them because of how potent their offense is their bullpen and how well they play defensively. They have less than 50 errors, fielding .978 or something. They don't give up any runs, have solid starting pitching and Bellamy and Gutierrez coming out of the bullpen are two of the best. You try to look at how you are going to score some runs that's tough... and how you can hold them down, not too many people have been able to do that. That is a ballpark where the ball can leave the yard there pretty easily. I think the key will be to prevent the big inning, not open the door for them and make them work for every run they get."

"We would like to defend our [ACC] title; realistically they have a three-game lead on us, so that would be a pretty tall order. If we got to Saturday and have that within our grasp then we will do everything we can. That would be pretty unrealistic on the road and certainly down there..."

Pitching Matchups:

UNC sophomore RHP Alex White (8-2) 2.36 ERA, 69 K, .231 B/avg.
UM freshman LHP Chris Hernandez (9-0) 2.70 ERA, 80 K, .217 B/avg.

UNC junior RHP Adam Warren (7-1) 4.50 ERA, 49 K, .295 B/avg.
UM sophomore LHP Eric Erikson (7-0) 3.31 ERA, 53 K, .223 B/avg.

UNC freshman RHP Matt Harvey (6-2) 2.25 ERA, 56 K, .233 B/avg.
UM senior RHP Enrique Garcia (5-1) 4.85 ERA, 46 K, .277 B/avg.

Miami Pitching Notes:
Freshman Chris Hernandez has a pitching arsenal that features a fastball, cut fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. His top strikeout pitch is his devastating slider that really dives in late and sharply. He also throws his four-seamer in the high 80s with the cut fastball in the low 80s and his changeup moves around a lot in the low 70s. He was a top rated prospect coming out of high school at Pace High in Pembroke Pines and was drafted in the 14th round by the Detroit Tigers organization.

Sophomore pitcher Eric Erikson was a freshman All-American last season going 6-2 in ACC play with a 1.93 ERA. He features three pitches and was drafted in 2006 in the 43rd round by the New York Yankees. Senior right handed pitcher Enrique Garcia started last season as the closer before moving into the weekend starting rotation. He was drafted last season by the Chicago Cubs in the 32nd round and decided to return to Miami for his senior season. He transferred to Miami from Potomac State Junior College as a junior where he was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2006 in the 20th round and by the Chicago White Sox in 2005 in the 17th round. He led Miami last season with 80 strikeouts.

Miami also features a pair of relief pitchers who expect to get a lot of work this series. Sophomore righty Kyle Bellamy has won five games in relief with a 1.28 ERA in 29 appearances, striking out 46 batters while only allowing batters to hit .130 against him. Closer junior Carlos Gutierrez has recovered from Tommy John elbow surgery last year leading the Hurricanes with 10 saves and 49 strikeouts over 33.1 innings pitched.

Miami Offense Overview:
Miami has a great combination of power and speed. They are hitting .333 as a team (2nd in the ACC) so far this season with 77 home runs (3rd in the ACC) and 83 stolen bases (2nd in the ACC). First baseman junior Yonder Alonso leads the team with 16 home runs and 53 runs batted in and a .382 batting average. He is tied with junior center fielder Blake Tekotte for runs scored with 63 so far this season. Tekotte leads the team with 21 steals on the season while junior second baseman Jamile Weeks ranks second on the squad with 16 thefts in 17 attempts.

Miami Season Review:
Miami has not lost a series thus far this season. The only losses came to Florida, North Carolina State, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Florida International and Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes enter this series with a three game lead on the Tar Heels in the Coastal Division standings.

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