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Balanced ACC Coastal Champs Take Aim At First Omaha Appearance Since ‘08
Over the next few weeks, Jacob Dennis will be discussing the College World Series chances of @ACCBaseball’s top teams in a series called “Making The Case.”
For a baseball program as decorated as the University of Miami’s, making it to the College World Series every year isn’t a hope, it’s an expectation. The Canes have made it to 43 NCAA Regionals in program history, turning those playoff berths into a whopping 23 College World Series appearances. While the team hasn’t made it to Omaha since 2008, the drive to return to college baseball’s biggest stage seems to be fueling a new, younger version of Miami baseball. Jim Morris’ club might be the single most balanced squad in the country, as six Canes are currently batting over .300 (minimum 100 PAs), while four pitchers have five or more wins with ERAs under 3.8. It’s not often that a team is as solid top to bottom as Miami is this season and the Canes’ even distribution of talent could be a significant advantage when postseason play rolls around next week.
Here are two main reasons why the University of Miami will break its six year drought and clinch a spot in Omaha this summer:
|Zack Collins (l) and David Thompson (r) anchor the Hurricanes' offense and are keys to Miami's Coastal Division title.|
Balance, Balance, And More Balance
Take a quick look at Miami’s season stats and it will become abundantly clear: the Canes aren’t fueled by one single star. Instead, consistently solid statistical outputs from the mound and the plate have made the Canes one of the most formidable teams in the country. Six Hurricanes have 50 hits or more, four have 42 or more RBIs, and four more have double-digit doubles. Two players, David Thompson and Zack Collins, have 12 or more home runs, led by Thompson’s ACC-leading 14. Collins and Thompson do anchor the team’s offense, as the two have the potential to haul in some individual hardware before the season is over. Collins hit .692 with three home runs last week en route to player of the week honors for the second consecutive week, while Thompson was named to the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list for top amateur baseball player in the country.
The Canes have a balanced rotation as well, as all four starters have winning records with five or more wins. Enrique Sosa has the most wins in the starting rotation with seven, and his K/BB ratio is greater than 2:1. Danny Garcia, Thomas Woodrey, and Andrew Suarez all have five wins with ERAs under 3.3. The Canes’ team ERA of 3.05 ranks fourth in the conference.
Miami will be a difficult team to eliminate in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments because the team simply doesn’t have many holes. The Canes don’t rely on a single star player like many other teams in the league, so the team can afford the inevitable poor performance or two without risk of a total team letdown.
An Offensive Juggernaut
The numbers don’t lie: Miami is the best offensive team in the ACC. The Canes lead the league in team batting average (.311), team slugging percentage (.462), team on base percentage (.421), runs scored (415), hits (562), RBIs (356), hits per game (11.02), and runs per game (8.14). Jim Morris’ squad has a great mixture of power and speed, as the Canes have hit 47 home runs and have a stolen base success-rate of nearly 87% (69/80). Even Louisville, a team many have dubbed as having the best starting rotation in the country, had trouble keeping Miami off the scoreboard at times, as the Canes managed over six runs per game despite losing two of three.
It is difficult to see the team’s offense slumping in postseason play because the production comes from all spots in the lineup. Miami is averaging a whopping 14.2 runs per game over its last nine contests and assuming the Canes continue to manufacture offense in the final weekend series against Georgia Tech, a team whose pitching has struggled at times, Jim Morris’ squad will enter postseason play as one of the hottest offensive teams in the nation.
Miami could run into trouble down the road against another team with a high-powered offense, only because the team’s pitching truly is the only wild card in determining just how far the Canes will make it this season. No matter the opposition on the mound, Miami is going to score runs in bunches.
The Canes aren’t completely Omaha-or-Bust this season, however, due to the plethora of youth scattered throughout Miami’s roster. Jim Morris’ team rosters just four seniors compared to 12 freshmen. The college baseball world can go ahead and get used to Miami’s baseball success, if it hasn’t already, because the youthful Hurricanes should be a mainstay deep in postseason play for the foreseeable future.
**Statistics as of May 12