« April 2009 | Main | June 2009 »

10 posts from May 2009

May 24, 2009

Regional sites released: UM will be on the road

DURHAM, N.C. -- As expected, the University of Miami baseball team will not be hosting a regional next week. The NCAA just announced the 16 host sites and the ACC got four, but Miami is not among them.

The 16 sites: Arizona State, UC-Irvine, Cal St. Fullerton, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, FSU, Georgia Tech, LSU, Louisville, Mississippi, UNC, Oklahoma, Rice, Texas and TCU. Most suspect UM will be going to Gainesville next weekend. The complete field will be revealed Monday at 12:30 p.m.

May 22, 2009

BC blows out UM 10-1

DURHAM, N.C. -- Here's today's live blog from the University of Miami's final game at The ACC Tournament against Boston College Friday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

> UM starter Iden Nazario didn't get to stick around very long for the Canes. He's out after just 1 2/3 innings. He gave up four earned on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts. David Gutierrez replaced him.

> Another great start for the Canes on offense. The first six hitters get retired in order a day after they were able to get just one hit off FSU starter Brian Busch through five innings and two days after Georgia Tech pitcher Deck McGuire no-hit UM for 5 1/3 innings. The Canes enter today's game hitting a tournament worst .206 (13 for 63 in the series).

> At least today's stadium sound guy is keeping this entertaining. He's playing TV show tunes and has already thrown out the tunes from Night Court, Melrose Place, Dallas, Everybody Loves Raymond and The Jefferson's.

> If there's one thing UM might have gotten out of this tournament its having David Gutierrez recapture some of his confidence. He picked up the win against Georgia Tech Wednesday with three solid innings of relief. He's done a good job again so far today. That could loom large in the regionals next week. I'll have to ask Morris if he might consider moving Gutierrez back into the rotation.

> Ted Blackman picks up UM's first hit with a one-out single to center in the third. UM can't do anything with it. By the way, I never realized how dumb the lyrics to the Who's The Boss intro really was until now.

> By the way, being Cuban-American I had a hearty laugh at this internet commercial filmed here in North Carolina. I found it appropriate to share. By the way, the guys who filmed this commercial are the same ones who created the Red House commercial Dan LeBatard was playing last week on his show on 790 The Ticket.

> Another 1-2-3 inning for David Gutierrez in the fourth.

> Canes blow another golden opportunity to get on the board with a run. With runners on first and third, Harold Martinez can't come through with the clutch hit. Instead, he swings and misses at strike three. BC starter Pat Dean has looked like Randy Johnson today. Dean is BC's No. 3 starter. He came in with a 5-4 record and 3.54 ERA.

> It's only fitting we'd hear the sappy theme from Hill Street Blues as UM finds itself in a nasty situation here in the fifth with the bases loaded and nobody out. John Housey replaced Gutierrez, gave up a hit and walked three -- including BC's fifth run -- before leaving. Sam Robinson will now try to save the Canes' behind.

> Maybe Jim Morris can bring in Jacory Harris next. Canes trail 7-0 here in the fifth and could use one of those Harris touchdown passes to Laron Byrd or Aldarius Johnson to get back in the game. Speaking of the football Canes, did you see Bruce Feldman's interview with Randy Shannon earlier this week?

> Another first and third situation produces zilch for the Canes when Ryan Jackson grounds out weakly to the mound to end the fifth.

> Looks like Morris has thrown in the towel. He's made a few defensive substitutions here in the seventh to give some of his bench players some work. I'm throwing in the towel too.

> Scott Lawson saves UM the embarrassment of being mercy-ruled when he singled home Dave DiNatale, who started the inning with a double, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Canes haven't given up hope on hosting

DURHAM, N.C. -- Experts say there is no probably no way Miami, Florida and Florida State will all get to host regionals next week. They say there is no way the NCAA would award three of the available 16 host sites to teams from the same state, not when the sport is making an effort to make teams from the north feel like they have a fairer shot at getting to Omaha.

But that hasn't stopped UM coach Jim Morris from keeping the dream alive -- even after his team was eliminated from the ACC Tournament by FSU on Thursday. Morris believes Friday's game against Boston College still matters for that reason.

If you overlook the current rankings (Baseball America has UM 23rd) and pay attention to UM's body of work, Morris has a strong case. His team swept the Gators in Gainesville earlier this year, split the season meetings with the Noles, and finished finished fifth in the toughest conference in the country (but not by much).

Unlike college basketball, there is no official RPI or Joe Lunardi around to provide us with serious insight as to what the selection committee will likely do when it announces its field Monday at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN. But, Morris and most college baseball coaches believe the pseudo-RPI system used BoydsWorld.com is extremely accurate. Even after Thursday's loss to the Noles, BoydsWorld has Miami ranked 8th in the country. That's good enough to not only host Regionals, but Super Regionals too.

MORRIS, MARTIN LIKE ACC TOURNAMENT FORMAT

You may not like the fact that the Seminoles have already locked up a bid to Sunday's ACC Title game after just two games. But Morris and FSU coach Mike Martin have no problem with it or the format of the ACC Tournament, which splits its top eight teams into divisions and let's them play three games in a round robin format before the top two teams advance to a championship.

Both coaches say its the best way for their teams to compete for a title and save their pitching for the tournament that really matters -- the one that ends in Omaha.

“I like the format and I’d have a very hard time voting for something else,” Martin said. “I remember a while back when Georgia Tech had to play three games in one day in Winston Salem. That really put them behind the eight-ball next week [in regionals] and for what they really started playing for in August. This is the only way I think is best for the schools that are trying to get to Omaha.”

Morris agrees. "Whether you like this scenario or don’t like this scenario, it’s the best scenario in my opinion because it prepares you for the NCAA Tournament," Morris said. "It determines the true champion of the ACC with two brackets. I think it’s the best scenario even though people can argue the double elimination. But if you do it that way you blow out your pitching staff. Every team that goes to the NCAA Tournament is going to have three of their pitchers get a start and at the same time you are getting a champion that’s going to be in a one game playoff. This is not for the national championship, its for the ACC Tournament, which is big after we won it last year. But the bottomline is you have to get ready for the next tournament."

May 21, 2009

Canes blow golden chance in 7th, Noles win 4-2

DURHAM, N.C. -- Unfortunately, today's ACC Tournament game between the Canes and Seminoles isn't available locally on TV. But WQAM does have the radio broadcast. I will be here to provide thoughts and highlights at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

FSU scored four runs in the first off UM starter Chris Hernandez > UM gambled Wednesday by saving ace Chris Hernandez for the Noles and throwing their bullpen at Georgia Tech. It paid off Wednesday with a 8-6 win against Georgia Tech. We'll have to see if the second part of the gamble pays off today. FSU got to Hernandez early in his last start.  

> Six pitches in and FSU is up 2-0. After Tyler Holt smacked the second pitch he saw from Hernandez for a single to right center, Stephen Cardullo drilled Hernandez's third pitch of the game for a double off the Big Blue Monster for a run scoring double. Three pitches later, Mike McGee hit nearly the same exact spot for another run scoring double.

> FSU's Tommy Oravetz drills a 1-0 pitch into the empty seats in right field to make it 4-0 Noles in the top of the first. Think the Noles are sending a message?

> Turned out to be a far less stressful inning for FSU starter Brian Busch. He retired the Canes in order and threw less than 10 pitches.

> Much better second inning for Hernandez, who retired the 8, 9, 1 part of FSU's lineup in order.

> Chris Herrmann's one-out double in the second turned out to be meaningless. He was stranded at second when Brian Busch got Harold Martinez to line out hard to left and Dave DiNatale to groundout to short to end the inning. At least UM isn't being no-hit. Yesterday against GT, they waited until the sixth to get a hit on ACC PItcher of the Year Deck McGuire. Back in April, they waited until the sixth to get a hit on Busch.

> Hernandez's second trip down the FSU order is going much better. He's retired six in a row since his rocky first inning.

> UM had the man they wanted at the plate with two outs in the third and runners on first and second base. But Jason Hagerty just couldn't come through. He came up a few feet short of wall in center field. UM still trails 4-0 after three.

> Got to give Chris Hernandez props for getting out of major trouble in the fourth. He walked the leadoff man then had Oravitz reach when the ball squirted out of shorstop Ryan Jackson's glove on a tailor made double play. But Hernandez battled back -- even after the Noles pulled off a double steal -- to strike out the next three hitters.

> UM is starting to hit the ball hard of Busch. They just don't much to show for it. Yasmani Grandal, who reached on a hard single to right, finally put UM on the board when he came in to score on Harold Martinez's line drive sacrifice fly to deep left. But FSU still leads 4-1 after four innings.

> Chris Hernandez's pitch count after five innings is around 90. UM is probably going to get just one more inning out of him before the bullpen is going to have to come in and try to keep this close.

>  That's two errors now in this game for Ryan Jackson. He had seven all season. Maybe he can make up for it by bringing his bat to life here late in the game.

> Ryan Jackson just missed on a home run and ended up getting thrown out at second. Yasmani Grandal, however, didn't miss on his big swing. His solo blast off the porch of a condo behind the wall in left field has trimmed FSU's lead to 4-2 after six. It was Grandal's 16th blast of the season.

> Chris Hernandez's day is over after six innings. Michael Rudman has replaced him in the seventh. Hernandez gave up four earned and five hits, but kept Miami in the game after that horrid first inning.

> Tough break for the Canes in the seventh. They load the bases on walks and bring Ryan Jackson, who is due a break, to the plate. But he never gets a chance to swing. A ball gets away from FSU catcher Rafael Lopez, but not far enough to allow Dave DiNatale to score from third. Instead, DiNatale gets rung up by home plate umpire Randy Harvey when relief pitcher Geoff Parker applied the tag a moment before he reached the base.

Canes must beat FSU AND BC to play Sunday

DURHAM, N.C. - Even if UM beats top-seeded Florida State later this afternoon, the Canes will still have work to do in the ACC Tournament if they hope to reach Sunday's championship game. That's because Boston College just added another road block to UM's path when it beat Georgia Tech 7-3 this afternoon.

FSU second baseman Jason Stidham hit a two-run home run off UM starter Chris Hernandez earlier this year. By virtue of that win, Miami, seeded fifth, must now beat the Eagles (32-24) Friday at noon or they'll be eliminated from title contention. If BC (1-1) were to beat Miami (1-0) and FSU (1-0) were to beat Georgia Tech Saturday, it would create a three-way tie between the teams, one that would favor the Noles because they are the top-seeded team in Division A. Even if FSU were to lose to the Yellow Jackets, it still wouldn't help UM. BC would own the first tiebreaker -- head-to-head -- and advance to Sunday's title game in front of Miami.

I know it all could become moot if UM loses to FSU in a couple hours anyway. But at least now you know that even if UM wins today, they still have to win Friday to play on Sunday.

As for their matchup with the Noles...

> Just because the Seminoles are going with No. 2 starter Brian Busch this afternoon, don't mistake it for being a much easier situation for UM than had Sean Gilmartin been scheduled to pitch. Busch pitched five hitless innings against UM in his previous start in Coral Gables before Jason Hagerty belted a two-run home run in the sixth inning to break it up. The big blast pushed Busch out of the game with a 4-3 lead. UM eventually came back and won the game 6-4.

But it wasn't easy. UM starter Chris Hernandez labored early and fell behind 4-1. Jason Stidham hit a two-run homer off Hernandez in the first and Stuart Tapley added a two-run double before Hernandez settled down. Hernandez would strike out 11 while scattering six hits in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 3-2. Kyle Bellamy pitched the final 2 1/3 scoreless, hit-less innings, while striking out five to earn the save.

> UM beat FSU the next day 14-8 to take 2-of-3 in the series. But FSU has been red hot since, going 23-4. They lost twice at Georgia Tech and at home to Florida and North Carolina. But that's it.

THURSDAY'S LINEUPS
> FSU (41-14): 1. CF Tyler Holt (.403), 2. SS Stephen Cardullo (.374), 3. LF Mike McGee (.365), 4. 2B Jason Stidham (.344), 5. 3B Stuart Tapley (.303), 6. DH Tommy Oravetz (.262), 7. RF Ohmed Danesh (.269), 8. 1B Jack Posey (.217), 9. C Rafael Lopez (.291). Pitching: LHP Brian Busch (5-2, 4.38 ERA, 57 Ks, 31 BBs).
> UM (36-18): 1. 2B Scott Lawson (.345), 2. SS Ryan Jackson (.263), 3. 1B Jason Hagerty (.320), 4. C Yasmani Grandal (.301), 5. LF Chris Hermann (.342), 6. 3B Harold Martinez (.286), 7. RF Dave DiNatale (.314), 8. DH Ted Blackman (.259), 9. CF Nathan Melendres (.278). Pitching: LHP Chris Hernandez (7-3, 4.31 ERA, 82 Ks, 26 BBs).

A FEW MORE NOTES...
- Courtesy of UM sports information director Rob Dunning...
> Chris Hernandez is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA in his last five starts.
> UM is averaging 7.9 runs per game over their last 15 games. Five Hurricanes are hitting .350 or better in the last 10 ACC games. Chris Hermann is hitting .550 with five HRs, 16 runs and 18 RBI. Yasmani Grandal (.405), Scott Lawson (.357), Dave DiNatale (.350) and Jason Hagerty (.350) all have at least 14 hits over that same span. The rest of the starters are hitting over .300.
> UM's bullpen has allowed just 14 earned runs in their last 68 1/3 innings (1.96 ERA). Kyle Bellamy, Michael Rudman, Rene Guerra and Kevin Youst have allowed just one earned run between them in their last 36 innings combined. 

May 20, 2009

Morris' gamble pays off

DURHAM, N.C. -- Jim Morris has been around college baseball enough long to know it takes more than a star-studded lineup or one dominant pitcher to win in the postseason. It takes something else, too -- luck. 

Jim Morris That's exactly what UM had on its side Wednesday in its 8-6 win over Georgia Tech. You don't go 5 1/3 innings without a hit, have the opposing team load the bases twice and still find yourself only down 2-1 in the sixth inning without it. But while a lucky bounce or two can change the outcome of a game, I'm a firm believer you create some of your own luck, too.

And the honest truth is nobody at UM, no coach of any current team, is better at it than Morris. That's not a slight on Randy Shannon or Frank Haith or any of UM's other coaches. It's just the truth. Morris has two rings to prove it. 

In my opinion, he just knows how to put his athletes in situations better than anyone else to overachieve, to bounce back, and to orchestrate a little magic.

Morris knew his team needed an emotional lift if it was going to have any chance at defending its crown in this tournament and hosting a regional next week.

So, he rolled the dice against Georgia Tech when he decided to hold ace Chris Hernandez from pitching against ACC Pitcher of The Year, Deck McGuire. The idea: save his ace for Thursday's tough game against the Seminoles and let some guys earn their wings. Maybe, it might just create the fire his team needs to get going.

Somehow, Morris not only had a hunch his trio of freshmen (Travis Miller, Sam Robinson and Danny Miranda) were going to do well against the Yellow Jackets' potent offensive attack, but he knew David Gutierrez, the coldest arm on the team, was due to snap out of his funk. Together, those four pitched seven innings and got an 8-6 lead to closer Kyle Bellamy, who obviously did the rest Wednesday.

The result: Miami won and now Hernandez will pitch against FSU, which already pitched its ace Wednesday. Morris could have played his cards differently. He could have pulled the Johnny Wholestaff against Boston College or FSU. But he didn't because he knew better. And now the Canes still have a chance to really win this tournament.

“I think you could probably say we were rolling the dice,” Morris said. “But, with that said, our bullpen has been pretty good. We’ve had some injuries with our pitching staff and I knew we were going to have to piece together a game somewhere to make it happen. All our guys were fresh. They did a good job at Wake Forest in the same type situation where Miller started. I felt like it was the best opportunity for us to win in this tournament to do that and we came out very fortunate."

Canes hold on for 8-6 win over Georgia Tech

DURHAM -- Here's today's live blog from the ACC Baseball Tournament where UM is taking on Georgia Tech at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

My view from the press box > It turned out to be a long first inning for freshman Travis Miller. But he got out of it relatively unscathed. He gave up two hits and walked in a run with the bases loaded, but struckout three.

Deck McGuire struckout Ryan Jackson swinging and Jason Hagerty looking after giving up a leadoff walk to Scott Lawson in the top of the first. The Canes have yet to really hit a ball hard off McGuire, who retired UM in the second in order.

> What happened to those bats that pounded Wake Forest this past weekend? Guess it ws the pitching. UM has sent 10 batters to the plate through three innings and has yet to produce a hit, much less solid contact off ACC Pitcher of the Year Deck McGuire. GT leads 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

> Freshman day continues. Left-hander Sam Robinson comes in to pitch for UM with nobody out in the third and a runner on first. Miller gave UM two decent innings, striking out four, walking three and giving up three hits and one earned.

> The story so far has been McGuire. He hasn't given up a hit through four innings. UM, however, was able to tie the score at 1 when Jason Hagerty was able to come around and score from second on a failed double play attempt and throwing error.

> Sam Robinson's day has ended and now David Gutierrez enters with the bases loaded, one out and the meat of Georgia Tech's lineup up to bat in the fourth. Georgia Tech got three hits before Derek Dietrich walked with the bases loaded to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-1 lead.

> It almost feels like this game has been perfectly scripted for UM to steal it. UM has used three pitchers in four innings. The ACC Pitcher of the Year has a no-hitter. And the Canes trail by 1 in the top of the fifth.

> Still no hits for UM entering the sixth. But a big part of this story has become David Gutierrez. Talk about a guy who went south. Gutierrez started the season 2-0 and has gone 0-6 in his last 10 starts. Now, he's come out of the bullpen in a key situation, bases-loaded, one out, and gotten out of it easy. Then, he gets out of the fifth relatively easy. If Miami can get another two, three solid innings out of him they've got a chance to steal this game and some innings for closer Kyle Bellamy.

>  McGuire's no-hitter is finally ended in the sixth when Jason Hagerty drilled a one-out double down the right field line.

> Deck McGuire got decked. The Canes have batted around here in the top of the sixth to take a commanding 6-2 lead, forcing the ACC Pitcher of the Year out of the game after he carried a no-hitter into the inning. UM has pounded out six hits in the inning -- including four doubles. The big stroke came off the bat off Chris Hermann, who doubled opposite field off the wall in left to tie the score. 

> Georgia Tech has come back with two runs in the sixth and seventh innings to trim UM's lead to 8-6 here at the start of the eighth. Can you say Kyle Bellamy time?

> Kyle Bellamy is there to save the day again. Big pitching performance by UM's Mr. Clutch. He records the final six outs to keep UM in contention for its second straight ACC title. I'll have more later.

Hernandez to start vs. FSU

DURHAM -- If you turn on the TV at noon and can't find Chris Hernandez on the mound for the University of Miami, don't worry he's not hurt.

UM's ace has been scheduled to pitch against top-seeded Florida State Thursday at 4 p.m. According to UM sports information director Rob Dunning, coach Jim Morris has decided to give Hernandez an extra day of rest -- to keep him on pace with his usual week off between starts. Instead, Miami will send Johnny Wholestaff to the mound this afternoon against Georgia Tech (34-15-1).

The Canes will start freshman right-hander Travis Miller (2-0, 4.91) against ACC Pitcher of The Year Deck McGuire (10-0, 2.63 ERA). It's a gamble Morris hopes will pay off if UM's bats can stay hot. The Canes pounded out a boatload of runs (46) and hits (61) against Wake Forest last weekend.

The task will obviously be a lot harder against McGuire. He pitched six strong innings against UM in Coral Gables back in late March, giving up just four earned while walking four and striking out seven.

Dunning said there is a good chance if UM is still in the game in the middle innings you could see closer Kyle Bellamy come in as early as the fifth or sixth inning.

LINEUPS

> UM: 1. Scott Lawson 2B (.347), 2. SS Ryan Jackson (.265), 3. 1B Jason Hagerty (.316), 4. C Yasmani Grandal (.305), 5. LF Chris Hermann (.346), 6. 3B Harold Martinez (.288), 7. RF Dave DiNatale (.317), 8. DH Ted Blackman (.248), 9. CF Nathan Melendres (.282).

> GT: 1. CF Jeff Rowland (.357), 2. SS Derek Dietrich (.320), 3. RF Luke Murton (.376), 4. 1B Tony Plagman (.347), 5. C Jason Haniger (.323), 6. DH Chase Burnette (.384), 7. 3B Matt Skole (.303), 8. 2B Thomas Nichols (.284), 9. LF Chris House (.316).

May 19, 2009

Kentucky reportedly wins John Wall recruiting battle

On my way to Durham for the ACC Baseball Tournament and got word earlier this morning Canes basketball fans don't want to hear. John Wall, the nation's No. 1 recruit, has reportedly picked Kentucky over The U.

It's a tough loss for coach Frank Haith, who was closer than ever to adding the big name recruit he needed to take this program to the next level. With Wall, Miami would have become an instant national story and much more visible to other top notch recruits.

Sooner or later, Haith is going to land the big one. He came close last year too with Devin Ebanks.

The big one could finally come next year in the form of Pine Crest guard Brandon Knight. One thing is for sure, if you are a Canes fan you ought to be encouraged Haith at least has UM in the conversation for the nation's best players. That's a huge step forward for what was an otherwise mediocre program just a few years ago.

May 14, 2009

Can the Canes get back to Omaha?

Mid May has traditionally been the time of year on the South Florida sports calendar when the UM baseball team suddenly begins to draw interest from folks that didn't really care about them except during those early season FSU or Florida series.

Kyle Bellamy and Yasmani Grandal celebrated an ACC title last year. Now, they're just hoping UM can get hot and make it back to Omaha. Right about now is when coach Jim Morris and his team begin popping up on nightly sports telecasts, and the fairweather fans who no longer have the Heat or Panthers to watch in the playoffs -- or are tired of the up-and-down struggles of the Marlins -- begin wondering how their team is doing in the old "ping league." Even UM football diehards who are glued to Canesport's football recruiting wire will lift their heads up from their computers for five minutes to ask: How many weeks until Omaha?

It's what Morris and his team has gotten us South Floridians accustomed to. They've spoiled us really. What we expect is for the most reliable team in the sports market -- the one that always has that hefty national ranking, the slew of big home run bats, and that combo of left-handers who bring the heat -- to be ready to deliver excitement for about three weeks, to have us on edge and suddenly yearning for that sound (PING!)

Sorry to break it to you casual observers, but the forecast for the pinging Canes doesn't look good. Unless the Canes turn it around big time and in a hurry, the milkshake guy at The Light has served his last Omaha Express. And fans who were hoping to watch Scott Lawson do his stanky leg dance are going to have to hope TV cameras catch it.

Earlier this week, I caught up with the Canes before they left Wednesday in must-win mode for their final regular season ACC series at Wake Forest. Miami, ranked 24th by Baseball America, has gone 8-10 over the past month. The Canes have had plenty of icky losses. North Florida beat them. Bethune-Cookman took two of three from them last weekend at The Light no less.

Players know the only way they'll get to play at home again is if they get hot and stun everyone at next week's ACC Tournament in Durham. So can they do it? And more importantly, can they get back to Omaha? Ask closer Kyle Bellamy that question and he might spit venom at you.

“Of course we can get hot,” said Bellamy who with a 3-1 record, 1.15 ERA and 14 saves has been the only consistent arm on the staff Miami has had all season. “We were No. 2 in the nation for awhile. We’re definitely capable. We just have to get that mentality back we had when we swept the Gators in Gainesville and we took 2 of 3 from FSU. I think we just need to get that chip back on our shoulder – the one we had when were trying to prove to everyone we were a pretty good team."

The problem for Miami is that it's going to take more than an attitude adjustment. It's going to take a major overhaul. Only three hitters -- Scott Lawson (.348), Chris Hermann (.314) and Jason Hagerty (.313) -- are batting better than .300. While ace Chris Hernandez has gotten his act together (he's now 6-3 with a 4.24 ERA after a horrendous start), No. 2 starter David Gutierrez is still looking for his first win since March 7th.

Morris had loftier expectations when the season began despite the fact he lost three first round picks and a boatload of talented players from a team that went 53-11 and entered the College World Series last year expecting to win a fifth national title. But despite the recent setbacks Morris hasn't lost hope. Heck, if Fresno State did it last year why can't the Canes?

“We’ve proven we can beat some of the best teams in college baseball and we’ve proven if we don’t go out and play well we’re not going to win,” Morris said. “We’ve put our backs against the wall no question about that. But I know we can respond. I think we’ve swung the bats really good against some good teams, and any team in the Top 25 has a chance to get hot this time of year. Fresno State was 82nd last year and they won it. We have a lot of young players who can grow up quickly over the next few weeks."

As it stands, even if Miami were to win next week's ACC Tournament, the likelyhood remains they could be on the road in the regionals because the NCAA isn't likely to grant more than two in-state teams the right to host. Both the Gators and Seminoles are ranked higher than UM at the moment and both have had much better regular seasons to this point. As it stands, Baseball America projects Miami will be making the trip to Gainesville.

That doesn't bode well for UM. When the Canes have reached Omaha in the past, they've usually done it playing at home. Of their 23 trips to the CWS, only four were achieved by winning a regional on the road (2006, 1996, 1989, 1984, 1974). Morris said this team in his eyes compares a lot to his 2002 team, which won a regional in Gainesville, but then loss a heart breaker to South Carolina in the Super Regional a week later.

“It’s very important for us to host regionals,” Bellamy said. “There was a lot of inspiration we got our own fans last year in those tight games. Sometimes traveling and being in the airplanes and the hotels can wear on you. Hosting Regionals would definitely be a huge lift. Hopefully, it’s not too late and we can turn it on.”

JUST A FEW QUICK NOTES...
> After spending the past month on Marlins detail, I will be going on the road with the baseball team to Durham next week. So, if you want to talk baseball while I'm there, shoot me some questions on the blog or email. I'll probably be live blogging the games.

Eduardo Clements > This week with the Marlins on the road and Clark Spencer on the beat, I got a chance to make my rounds to a few local high schools to catch up on the recruiting front. For those of you interested, I posted three videos -- including an interview with Booker T. Washington running back Eduardo Clements.

While I'm still very skeptical UM will be able to get any of the Tornadoes' top recruits, you should know the Canes at least have a new constant presence on campus. Tim Harris Jr., the son of former coach Ice Harris and a star in track at UM, has begun his high school coaching career this spring at Booker T. He's coaching the quarterbacks. That alone should help Miami stay in contention for Clements, receiver Quinton Dunbar, and defensive end Lyden Trail, who recently picked up an offer from USC.

> As for Miami Springs highly-touted receiver Willis Wright, Miami has definitely offered Wright and is intered in him. But they aren't nearly as interested as Florida State, which has already had five coaches come down to meet with the 6-3, 200-pound receiver in the past year. Miami Springs coach Alex Pacheco told me Monday Wesley McGriff visited the school last year, but no one from UM has been out there yet this spring. Wright got his formal offer from UM in the mail. Physically, Wright is one of the most impressive receivers I've ever seen in Miami-Dade. I'd throw him in the same category as Aldarius Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and Andre Johnson.

> For those of you still on edge over Frank Haith's chase of John Wall, Miami is definitely in the race for the nation's top available recruit. The people I spoke to this week on Wall's behalf told me UM is in his top three and under serious consideration. Wall, by the way, is apparently considering stretching his decision making process past the May 20th deadline.

> In case you missed it, our live weekly Q&As on MiamiHerald.com have been shut down until the start of football season. I'm now doing Marlins Q&As on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. If you want to shoot me questions, feel free to email them to me or place them on the blog. I'm thinking of starting up a Monday Mailbag session if I get some good questions from you.