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14 posts from June 2010

June 28, 2010

TE Chase Ford ready to make an impact

Instead of being where he wanted to be, Chase Ford said he spent most of his time this spring and summer working as a maintenance man at his old high school in Corrigan, Texas, a small town with less than 2,000 people, located about a two-hour drive northeast of Houston.

Chase Ford So what did Ford do to pass the time when he wasn't mowing the lawn or picking up after students? 

"Daydream about catching touchdowns," the 6-7, 250-pound tight end said Monday as he shopped at WalMart with his family for the stuff he'll need when he moves into his new dorm on the University of Miami campus Tuesday. 

"Miami coaches told me they want me to come in and produce. They're not expecting me to be a redshirt. So that's what I want to do -- make an impact."

Ford, one of 29 football players in UM's 2010 signing class, will be among a large group of players to begin taking classes in Coral Gables this week. Six arrived in January and participated in spring football. A few others are still waiting for academic issues to be cleared up (more on that later). 

Ford was hoping to be among the early arrivals, but the NCAA denied him a waiver he needed to take off from Kilgore Community College and arrive at UM in January. At Kilgore, where former Hurricanes tight end Kevin Everett once starred, Ford caught 34 passes for 571 yards and three touchdowns during the 2009 season. 

The Hurricanes, desperate for tight end help, didn't start recruiting Ford until last December. But once they did, it didn't take them long to convince him to pick them over Arizona and interest from North Carolina and become one of four new tight ends in the class.

Ford said he's been working hard during the offseason in the weight room to be physically ready to play every down if needed. The Hurricanes, who got a huge lift from former basketball star Jimmy Graham at tight end last season, had only two tight ends in the spring: senior Richard Gordon and redshirt freshman Billy Sanders. Ford, who will wear No. 9 at UM, said he thinks he can play right away for UM. Among the biggest areas where he says he needs to improve is blocking.

"I definitely feel like I've gotten stronger, faster," Ford said. "I know I ran a 4.68 as a freshman. I run a lot faster since then. When I visited Miami, saw the guys they had here before, I felt like I fit in with them [Dedrick Epps, Graham]. Both of those guys were good."

DL DELMAR TAYLOR HEADED TO JUCO: The Hurricanes may have signed 29 players in their last class, but not all of them are going to make it into school. Miami Beach defensive lineman Delmar Taylor is the first we know won't.

"As far as I know, he's going to [Navarro Junior College] in Texas," Miami Beach coach Ralph Jimenez said Monday.

Taylor, who grew up in the Bahamas, was told by the NCAA he would not be cleared for admission because some of the classes he took when he lived there wouldn't transfer over. Taylor said he still plans to be a Hurricane. "I just have to do this before I can come back," Taylor said.

Jacksonville Raines offensive lineman Tavadis Glenn, Clovis (Calif.) linebacker Kelvin Cain and Cape Coral High WR/CB Jeremy Davis will also not begin classes this week because of academic issues.

"It's going to be slow process for him because he may not be qualified," Raines coach Deran Wiley said of Glenn. "He went to an [Drop Back In Academy] his senior year, not here, and they're going through his stuff with a fine tooth comb. I think he's going to get in, but he'll be an August guy."

Cain, who graduated with a 2.5 GPA and scored a 17 on the ACT, is hoping to be an August guy too. "I'm just waiting on the SAT score," Cain said. "I took it a couple weeks ago and should hear back soon. I've just been training, getting ready, running hard. In my mind, I'm definitely leaving for UM August 4th."

Davis, the younger half brother of former Hurricane Phillip Buchanon, hasn't answered his cell phone of late. But both Canesport.com and InsideTheU.com reported this week he could be an academic casualty as well.

UM gets commitment from Belen LB Menocal

Nick Menocal got an offer in the mail from the University of Miami two weeks ago. It didn't take him long to cash in on it.

Nick Menocal The 6-3, 232-pound Class of 2011 linebacker from Miami Belen Jesuit asked UM coach Randy Shannon Monday afternoon to save a scholarship for him in the school's next signing class, ending what had become a hot heavy recruiting process with a growing number of schools.

"A couple weeks ago I went to UM unofficially and just felt comfortable from the get go," said Menocal, whose mother went to UM. "Today I went back and I spoke to coach Shannon and told him this is where I want to commit. He said 'Welcome to the family.'"

Menocal, who had 17 offers including ones from Virgina, Iowa, and Florida State, recorded 61 tackles last season and helped lead Belen to the Class 3A state championship game. A baseball player most of his life, he didn't begin playing football until the spring of his freshman year at Belen.

His coach Rich Stuart said Menocal is very raw, but has plenty of upside. Menocal was one of the state's highest scorers at the Nike SPARQ camp, which measures overall athleticism. He ran a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash at the Miami Nike Camp earlier this spring and had a 35.5-inch vertical leap. This season, Menocal will play mostly defensive end for Belen, but said UM is recruiting him to play linebacker.

He will come in as one of UM's brightest recruits, boasting a 3.5 GPA. He already scored a 1510 on the SAT exam and is a full qualifier.

UM has six commitments in its 2011 class. Four are from South Florida.

June 12, 2010

Hurricanes Hand Game, Their Season to Gators: Seven Es lead to 4-3 Loss



GAINESVILLE – The Hurricanes got the pitching they needed. Miami even got the big hit when it was desperate for one.

Only Miami's defense absolutely abandoned ship on Saturday and the Hurricanes season is over because of it.

The Hurricanes committed seven errors – including three crucial ones in the final two innings – and watched the host Gators celebrate a two game sweep of the super regional with a 4-3 win in 10 innings.

“Obviously we didn't play very good,'' coach Jim Morris. “You're not going to beat a great club by making seven errors and Florida is an outstanding club. It was frustrating all game to watch the defense. It's something that was our strength in the second half of the season and we didn't show that in this super regional. I was concerned, no question, when we make a few mistakes that they play with confidence and get after it. We didn't do that.''

The Gators became the first team to qualify for the 2010 College World Series which starts Saturday in Omaha, Neb. This is the sixth trip to the CWS for the Gators as they try to capture their first national title. Florida advanced to the finals in its previous trip to Omaha in 2005. As Florida celebrated, the Hurricanes walked off the field with their heads down.

The Hurricanes end their season 43-20 and have lost six of their previous seven games to their rivals from Florida dating back to last year's Gainesville regional. So, Florida has ended Miami's season the past two years.

“Our main goal is to get to Omaha and we didn't do it,'' said starting pitcher Chris Hernandez. “As a team, we see this as a failure. You see it in our faces. We're all upset. We wanted to get to Omaha and didn't do it.''

Miami led 3-2 with two outs in the ninth before it committed its sixth error. The seventh, which came in the 10th, tied a program record for most errors in a postseason game.

Before Saturday, Miami last committed seven errors in a playoff game against Clemson. In 1978.

Miami led 3-2 with one out in the ninth when reliever Daniel Miranda struck out Brian Johnson with the bases loaded. Florida sent soft-hitting Josh Adams to the plate and he grounded to short. Miami shortstop Stephen Perez threw lightly to first and Scott Lawson couldn't handle the throw. All runners were safe and the Gators tied the score. Third baseman Michael Broad made an error earlier in the inning adding an out to the Florida offense.

In the 10th, Miami right fielder Chris Pelaez failed to catch a high pop up off the bat of Nolan Fontana and Fontana raced to second. He moved to third on a sacrifice and ended up scoring the game-winning run on a two-out single from Austin Maddox.

Miami threatened in the bottom of the 10th when Pelaez led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. But Broad struck out looking to reliever Greg Larson and Rodriguez grounded out to short to end it.

Early on, the Hurricanes had been struggling to do much of anything offensively for a second straight night. On Friday, it was sophomore Alex Panteliodis who handcuffed the Hurricanes, pitching a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts.

On Saturday it was freshman Hudson Randall's turn to stymie the Miami bats – and for six innings, he was close to perfect.

Hudson had faced the minimum through the first six, the only Miami runners to reach being Scott Lawson (first inning single) and Rony Rodriguez (third inning error). Neither runner threatened, however, knocked off in double plays.

“I think they have the best pitching staff we've seen this year,'' Morris said.

Things changed in the seventh as Frankie Ratcliff lead off with a single. Hudson had put 11 straight down in order before that single.

With two outs, Pelaez singled putting runners on the corners. Florida coach Scott O'Sullivan brought in closer Kevin Chapman to face Nathan Melendres. The outfielder crushed a 1-1 pitch, sending it opposite field as it easily cleared the right field fence to give Miami its first lead of the series.

“It's unfortunate that we weren't able to hold the lead, but that's just the way it goes,'' Melendres said. “We made errors and handed them the game. It was definitely a boost, but they found a way to get it done. We gave it to them. That's baseball.''

Hernandez “pitched well enough to win,'' said Morris, as he came two outs from a complete game. Hernandez was lifted with one out in the ninth with runners on. He ended up giving up three hits in 8 1/3, striking out four and surrendering only three hits.

Flanagan Falcons: Soon-to-Be 2010 National Champions

Flanagan2 GAINESVILLE -- Congratulations are in order to the Flanagan High baseball team.

Even though they haven't played in a few weeks.

The Falcons, from west Pembroke Pines, won the Class 6A state title on May 22 by beating American 12-3.

Flanagan, ranked 12th in the nation at the time, has won three state titles in the past six seasons.

On Saturday, they were pretty much award the national championship from Baseball America after a team from Spring, Texas, lost in the Lone Star championship game earlier today.

Tweeted BA's Nathan Rode: Final poll will come out in little over a week, but you can mark it now. 6A Florida champs Flanagan High will finish 2010 season at No. 1.

Miami's Harold Martinez Has Surgery, Season Likely Over ... Canes Throw Hernandez

Martinez GAINESVILLE -- The Hurricanes got a jolt of bad news Friday night as slugger Harold Martinez needed what season-ending leg surgery following Miami's Game 1 loss in a super regional at the University of Florida.

Martinez has been limping for the past couple of days and couldn't play third base for the Hurricanes on Friday – Michael Broad took his spot as Martinez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Friday's 7-2 loss in Game 1 as Miami's designated hitter.

Broad will remain at third on Saturday with Chris Pelaez sliding up from the fifth spot to take Martinez's clean up spot.

Martinez, a sophomore from Braddock, ends his season batting .295 with a team-leading 21 homers and 69 RBI.

Susan Miller Degnan has more on the story

University of Miami third baseman Harold Martinez is in Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville and will miss the first game of his college career -- a postseason super regional -- Saturday night against the Gators.

His season appears to be over.

Martinez, a 20-year-old sophomore who is projected as UM's top draft prospect next season, had a lump the size of a tennis ball removed from his left shin around midnight after Friday's super regional loss to UF. His shin, which had repeatedly been hit with foul balls this season when he was batting, had gotten infected.

He said he likely will remain at Shands until Monday, and then might have to be in a Miami hospital until the skin fills in and there is no danger of reinfection. It could take three weeks to heal, Martinez said.

``I've been in pain for a while,'' Martinez said by phone Saturday night before the game. ``But I didn't think much of it. I don't like missing games. I've always said the only way I'd miss a game is if I can't walk, and now I can't walk.''

Martinez, who leads UM with 21 home runs, was the designated hitter Friday night but was driven to the hospital by his father, Alexis, after the game. Alexis slept on the couch in his son's room, and the family -- including mother Ivon and 12-year-old sister Ellen -- was planning to watch the game together on TV.

``Everyone is feeling bad for Harold,'' Alexis said. ``On Friday, Harold almost could not run to first base.''

Martinez was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 19th round of the 2008 draft. He played for Miami Braddock High, and this past week was named to the NCAA Coral Gables Regional all-tournament team.

UM (43-19) must defeat Florida (46-14) to stay alive in the NCAA tournament.
-- Here's the rest of the lineup for Saturday.

The Canes (shockingly) are going with lefty Chris Hernandez (10-3, 2.77) with Florida countering with Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97).

Miami (43-19) is the home team tonight.


SS Nolan Fontana; DH Bryson Smith; 1B Preston Tucker; 3B Austin Maddox; CF Matt den Dekker; C Mike Zunino; LF Jon Pigott; 2B Josh Adams; RF Dan Pigott.


2B Frankie Ratcliff; 1B Scott Lawson; C Yasmani Grandal; RF Chris Pelaez; CF Nathan Melendres; 3B Michael Broad; DH Rony Rodriguez; SS Stephen Perez; LF Zeke DeVoss.

-- George Richards

June 11, 2010

Hurricanes Handcuffed in Gainesville: Florida 7, Miami 2 (Game 1 Final)

Handcuffhangover NCAA BASEBALL: FLORIDA 7, UM 2


GAINESVILLE – The day before the NCAA super regional started, Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal said that Florida's pitchers should be worried about the Hurricanes bats.

Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan quickly forwarded Grandal's comments to ace pitcher Alex Panteliodis.

“That's just more fuel for the tank,'' Panteliodis said Friday night, just moments after he completed a three-hit gem to lift the host Gators to a 7-2 victory over the Hurricanes in the opener of the best-of-3 series.

Grandal, coincidentally, accounted for both of Miami's runs with a homer to right in the fourth. Aside from that big swing, however, the Hurricanes bats were very quiet against the sophomore lefty.

“They totally dominated us in every phase of the game,'' said Miami coach Jim Morris. “They were just outstanding. We walked a few guys, made two errors. But we got dominated by their pitcher. He pitched very, very well.''

The best-of-three series resumes Saturday at 7 (ESPN2). If Miami loses, its season is over. With a victory, the Gators would advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., for the sixth time in school history.

Lefty Chris Hernandez (10-3) is the scheduled starter for Miami (43-19). The Hurricanes can hope their ace pitches partially as well as Florida's did. Panteliodis handcuffed Miami during his previous start against the Canes in March. He did so again Friday.

The Hurricanes collected just two runs off three hits as Panteliodis (11-2) struck out a career-high 12 and faced just three batters over the minimum.

Panteliodis retired 11 straight Hurricanes going into the ninth inning – and he put down Frankie Ratcliff, Scott Lawson and Grandal in order. Panteliodis struck out four of the final six Canes he faced.

The Gators (46-15) have won five of the past six against the Hurricanes dating to last year's Gainesville Regional.

Senior David Gutierrez, who was the winning pitcher when Miami won its lone game against the Gators during a three game set in March, held Florida scoreless through the opening two innings. It appeared he would continue that in the third.

With bases loaded and two outs, Florida's Brian Johnson lined out to shortstop Stephen Perez. Only third base umpire Phil Benson said Perez didn't catch the ball on the fly, all runners were safe and Jon Pigott scored the first run of the night. Miami coach Jim Morris argued the decision and the four umpires discussed it but did not overturn the call.

“I didn't see it very well, but Stephen Perez was very definitive that he caught the ball,'' said Morris. “The only guy who could have seen it was the third base umpire. He asked for help and they all agreed with him. Big call. They got a hit and two more runs.''

Mike Zunino then came up to the plate and singled into center, bringing two more runs in – including Austin Maddox, who reached on an error by Perez earlier in the inning – to make it 3-0.

The Hurricanes bounced right back in the fourth and got two of the runs back when Grandal pounced on a pitch from Panteliodis, driving it opposite field and over the right field fence to drive in Scott Lawson and make it a 3-2 game.

“I thought we got the momentum back with that home run,'' said Grandal. “He did a good job keeping his composure.''

Only Florida would get three more in the bottom of the frame, with UM second baseman Frankie Ratcliff helping out. With runners on and no outs, Nolan Fontana grounded into what should have been a double play; but Ratcliff bobbled the ball allowing all runners to advance. With bases loaded and no outs, Florida made it 4-2 on a grounder to Ratcliff, then broke it open on a two-run single by Maddox.

Gutierrez took the loss, his third of the season, with one of the six runs surrendered under his watch credited as earned. Gutierrez was replaced in the fifth by Jason Santana. Florida's Tyler Thompson, the second batter to face Santana, made it a 7-2 game when he hit a solo homer to right.

The Hurricanes have won six of the previous nine super regionals they have participated in since the format began in 1999 – and it's obvious the Canes like the cozy confines of Coral Gables.

Miami has won all five super regionals at home and only one of four played on the road. The Hurricanes have never won the opening game of a super regional on the road. In Miami's most recent road super regional in 2006, the Hurricanes bounced back from an opening night loss to win two straight against host Mississippi and advance to the CWS.

“The good news is that it's two out of three,'' Morris said. “We have to come out ready to play.''

NCAA Super Regional: Miami Hurricanes 2 @ Florida Gators 6, B-5TH -- ESPN

RegionalsGAINESVILLE -- About ready to get going here at McKethan Stadium.

The host Florida Gators will be the home team tonight, Miami gets that honor tomorrow. If there is a Game 3 on Sunday, a coin flip will determine who gets last ups.

Little surprise on the mound.

Florida is throwing ace sophomore Alex Panteliodis (10-2), a lefty who beat up on Miami pretty good earlier this season.

Jim Morris is throwing senior righty David Gutierrez (5-2, 5.12) at the Gators. He is the only UM pitcher to beat the Gator this season.

Florida won two of three in the Gables earlier this season and have won four of the past five in the series. The Gators thumped Miami in last year's Gainesville Regional.

Here are the lineups, in case you are scoring at home. If that's the case, good for ya.


2B Frankie Ratcliff; 1B Scott Lawson; C Yasmani Grandal; DH Harold Martinez; RF Chris Pelaez; CF Nathan Melendres; 3B Michael Broad; SS Stephen Perez; LF Zeke DeVoss.


SS Nolan Fontana; CF Matt den Dekker; 1B Preston Tucker; 3B Austin Maddox; DH Brian Johnson; C Mike Zunnio; 2B Josh Adams; LF Tyler Thompson; RF Jonathan Pigott.

Back in a bit.

-- Canes are in Orange tops, white pants with green/orange caps with the M; Gators wearing all white with blue caps and The F.

-- George Richards

Happy 25th Anniversary 1985 Miami Hurricanes

Um1985 GAINESVILLE -- Before we get into tonight's matchup between the Gators and Hurricanes (David Gutierrez is the likely UM starter FYI), we pause to honor one of the great stories in UM baseball history.

On June 11, 1985, Ron Fraser's Hurricanes captured their second national championship in three seasons by knocking off the favored Texas Longhorns (and some chap named Greg Swindell) at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.

The Hurricanes didn't have a single player from that team to make it to the Major Leagues -- unless you count mascot John Routh and announcer Jay Rokeach. They both made it to the show with the Marlins in 1993.

Greg Ellena was the MVP of that tournament, a fitting choice for the team he represented. Fraser dubbed those Canes 'The Happiest Team in America.''

"They were an unselfish team,'' said WQAM's Joe Zagacki on Friday. "You talk about chemistry and they had it. They believed in each other and were inseparable. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Right in this ballpark (Gainesville) on a Friday; they got a little rambunctious and coach Fraser brought them out here early Saturday morning and ran them all morning.

They were all puking. They went to get on the bus and were told they were walking back. Fraser said he didn't care if they won or lost that night. It was a lesson learned. And they won that night.''

Here's more from Joe Z:

On the Series

Fraser1 "They won the first game against Stanford with five future major leaguers before they lost to Texas and got knocked into the loser's bracket,'' Zagacki said.

"That team then won three straight one-run games -- 2-1, 6-5 and 2-1. They beat some great teams in Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Texas. They were all loaded. A squeeze bunt beat Texas and forced a winner-take-all game.

"I remember feeling pretty good before the game. I was in the Texas dugout and they were all there stoically watching the rain. I go into the Miami dugout and it's empty. The team was in the locker room, using their bats to sing Frank Sinatra's My Way. They were very loose.''

On winning it

"They were relaxed, they knew they were going to win the game. They just kept getting one hit after another.

"Jay Rokeach had tears coming out of his eyes.

"They were the epitome of team. There was no ego on that team.

"I can still hear Sonny Hirsch say 'goodbye Mississippi State, hello Miami.' I use that every once in a while to honor him.

"You know who was supposed to be on that team? Mike Piazza. He got cut.

"Our catcher Chris Magno had a blood clot, couldn't play in the championship game. They all went to the hospital after the game. They were still in their uniforms.

"I still have that ring. Happiest Team in America, it says.

"We had the reunion earlier this year. All but two guys showed up. It was like that season was still going. So much fun.

"That team just kept winning. And they almost won it the next year. It took a great play from Florida State to knock them out.

Thanks to John 'The Maniac' Routh for emailing me to remind me about the anniversary.

Here's what he sent me in an email earlier this evening.

“I was the official mascot of the series as "The Maniac."

“I had asked the NCAA head, Jerry Miles, prior to the series if I could join the dogpile 'when Miami wins.' He laughed. We were the eighth seed. With two outs in the ninth, I looked at him. He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. So in the highlights, you see The Maniac celebrating with the Canes!

“Greg Ellena, the bullpen catcher midseason. Ron Fraser started him on a whim on a Sunday. He hit a home run -- and ended as the CWS MVP!

“Catcher Chris Magno was in the hospital, and the team took the trophy to visit him after the game.

Um1985a “The game was played on a Tuesday after two rain delays. It was a little chilly for June.

“After Greg Swindell was given his second place plaque, he heaved it out into center field. May still be there!

“Of course, the highlight of the season for me was The Miami Maniac's Wedding back in March. ESPN covered the entire 14 minute ceremony live...with Sebastian the ibis as Best Man.''

-- And now, here's Jim Martz with his memories of the 85 team:

"They had the best reliever. Miami never won the series without a stopper. Rick Raether was crucial to their success.

"The A starter missed most of the year came back for the series. Kevin Sheary came through and got some big wins in Omaha.

"Up here in Gainesville is where they got their name 'the Happiest Team.'

"They got caught drinking, so he ran them. When they got back to campus, Fraser had t-shirts ready for them.

-- Feel free to leave your comments and memories from that team in the comment section.

Um1985reunion More from Gainesville throughout the night.

-- George Richards

June 10, 2010

Hurricanes on Rivalry: Omaha is The Story ... Jim Morris: No Habla Espanol

MiamimediaGAINESVILLE – Miami baseball coach Jim Morris met the gathered media Thursday afternoon prior to the start of the best-of-3 super regional in Gainesville.

Morris (center) was joined by ACC Player of the Year Yasmani Grandal (right) as well as ace pitcher Chris Hernandez (left).

Morris and his two players spoke on a variety of subjects on Thursday – including how Morris could possibly live in Miami as long as he has and not learn Spanish. 

Personal note: I was being a little sarcastic there. I grew up here and my Spanish is pretty horrid. So I know where Morris is coming from. I would love to, have tried to improve, but....Anyway....

That question was posed after Morris – asked about Florida having four coaches during his tenure at UM – said that former UF coach Andy Lopez sparked some fear in him when he visited South Florida.

“He worried me to death when he came to Miami and was speaking Spanish to my players,'' Morris said with a laugh. “No comprende. I thought he might come into Miami and steal some of our guys away. Thank goodness most of the guys wanted to stay home.”

Jimmorris That sparked a second question from a reporter from the Associated Press on why Morris didn't speak Spanish.

Morris admits he tried to learn the language with the use of a tutor, but because he isn't immersed in the language, it didn't really stick – and he has been able to survive without it.

“I've learned a few words, but I can't repeat them,'' Morris said laughing.

“You think you need Spanish in Miami, but you really don't. I had a tutor for a couple months, every morning 8 until 10. Then I had my coaches meeting and had the worst headache I ever had at 10 every day. They spoke no English [in the tutoring] and I was trying to do it. But once I left that room, everyone spoke English to me.

“We have Latin players who don't speak Spanish. They are now second and third generation and don't speak Spanish at home. If I go to a game and there are five Cuban guys sitting there speaking Spanish, I'll walk up – and I think it's a thing of courtesy – that they stop speaking Spanish. Originally it was different for me. But I have no reason now to have to do that. I always ask J.D. [Arteaga] to watch my backside around the guys.

“I'm in a very relaxed atmosphere. I don't think I need it. But it would be nice. But I don't have time, I haven't made time, and no one speaks Spanish to me. They might speak it about me, but not to me.''

Now, onto the baseball stuff....

Morris said he is excited to be back in the supers, but would much rather be in the Gables. As far as trash talk goes between the two teams, didn't happen. Neither group were fanning any flames.

Gatorsbase2 “We're very excited about being in the super regionals, but like everyone else, we'd rather be playing at home,'' Morris said.

“But Florida had an outstanding season and there's no doubt they deserve to host. I know they have an outstanding club. We're going to have to be at the top of our game to beat them, especially at this park. I've been here many, many times for many, many years at Miami and Georgia Tech. I'm expecting a great crowd and a great game.”

So, what about Miami losing to UF in the regionals last year?

“I don't think anything adds fuel to the fire. It's very competitive,'' he said. “The fact is, I don't know how many times in the past 17 years Miami and Florida have played for the right to go to the World Series or the super regional. But it seems like every other year since I've been here. This goes back a long ways. It's a great rivalry.''

“I don't think it's a fiery rivalry but a great rivalry. It's very competitive. I don't think there's bad blood between Miami and Florida, at least not from me. We've played them a lot of times and it's been a great atmosphere in both places.''

Is it more fun playing a rival in a super regional?

“I don't think you need anything more than Omaha on the line to be honest,'' Morris said. “We're playing Gatorsbase Texas A&M last weekend to have the chance to advance and it was hard played. When you get here, it doesn't matter who you are playing. Guys are going to come out and play. If they don't, something's wrong. This is for all the marbles, the chance to get to go to Omaha.

“I believe once you get to Omaha, any of the eight teams can win it. We've won it twice since I've been at Miami. Coach Fraser always told me that when he won it, it wasn't with the most talented teams. But they were the best teams. We've gone out there and lost with some of the most talented teams I've ever been around. But we've won it with a young team and with an old team. I know you can do it anyway.

“It's the right to go to Omaha is what it's all about. Every player in the United States who plays college baseball dreams of playing in Omaha and getting the chance to win a ring.''

Said Hernandez, regarding Miami's expectations:

“We came here to win a national championship. If we don't reach Omaha and win, it's a failure. We went there in 2008 and didn't win. We all felt [the season] was a failure. We all say Omaha after games and that starts in the fall. That's where it's at. That's where we want to be.''

Grandal -- Will have more tomorrow, with Yasmani Grandal talking about Miami's bats waking up at the right time of the year as well as some stuff regarding the MLB Draft and how Morris says the timing of it may be disruptive, but it isn't the fault of the Major Leagues.

Also hope to have some pregame stuff from the radio guys who cover this team on a very regular basis (both from WVUM 90.5 The Voice as well as Joe Z. from WQAM) and maybe some stuff from the ESPN dudes.

-- Also, tomorrow, comes stats and stuff from inside the UF-UM series. 

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-- For those Gator fans checking around today, sorry there wasn't news from the UF practice. I do apologize. They went early today -- before Miami's practice at 11:45 a.m. -- and I was driving up from South Florida and missed it.

With Joe Goodman and Gator Clause on vacation, I will try and fill the void with more Florida news tomorrow.

Adios y buena noche de amigos.

-- George Richards

Greetings from Gainesville: Jim Morris Mum on Pitching

CanesgatorsGAINESVILLE -- Both Jim Morris and Kevin O'Sullivan were quiet about who they would pitch this weekend as the best-of-3 super regional kicks off Friday night.

We do know that Miami ace Chris Hernandez will not go in Game 1. He says he's going Saturday, although Morris says he's going to be flexible.

Hernandez pitched two innings of scoreless relief Tuesday afternoon against the Texas A&M Aggies in Coral Gables.

With Florida not announcing their starting rotation on Thursday, Morris declined to as well. Fair enough.

Morris told me he would start a righty and to figure it out.

OK, here's my guess: Expect either senior Jason Santana – who beat the Gators back on March 6 by going 4 2/3 innings and surrendering three earned runs – or senior David Gutierrez to get the call.

Morris admitted that the UF series was so long ago, it feels like it was played last season so I don't know how much Santana's performance that Saturday night a few months ago will play into the equation.

Gutierrez has been starting of late with Santana coming out of the bullpen ever since the opening of the Georgia Tech series when Santana only lasted 2 2/3 innings in the Jackets' romp.

But Santana was good Sunday against the Aggies, replacing Gutierrez (5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 K) and going 3 2/3 innings with one run off two hits. 

“I have faith in the starter that he will do a great job and I'll be gearing up my game and imagine it's Friday night on Saturday,'' said Hernandez.

Florida's ace is sophomore Alex Panteliodis (10-2), Florida's first 10-game winner since 2005. He was UF's choice to pitch against Oregon State in the winner's bracket game of the regional, and he struck out eight in that win. He beat UM on March 5 by going 5 2/3 innings and giving up on run off two hits with eight strikeouts.

More from Gainesville as we go.

-- George Richards

Hurricanes in Gatorland

GAINESVILLE -- The Miami baseball team made it to Gainesville on Wednesday evening, got some rest, and are now in the middle of a noon practice at McKethan Stadium.

The Gators practiced earlier.

Word on the street is that coach Jim Morris is going to give ace Chris Hernandez some additional rest after he threw two scoreless innings against Texas A&M on Tuesday afternoon.

The best-of-3 super regional kicks off Friday at 7 -- weather permitting of course.

More from Gainesville later this afternoon.

-- George Richards

Hurricanes in Gatorland

June 09, 2010

Road Trip: Hurricanes Baseball Going North

Truckster1Good evening Miami fans, hope you are enjoying Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Quite a series, eh?

Well, we should have quite an interesting baseball series this weekend in Gainesville.

The Canes and the Gators have had some epic postseason matchups in the past and this one should be pretty good as well.

First team to two wins goes to Omaha.

Got to love that kind of incentive.

Anyway, I'll be taking over this blog for the next couple of days (unless Manny gets a few more Northwestern kids to commit to Randy Shannon) and will try and keep everyone updated on the doings of the baseball bunch.

My rental car is fueled up, my bag is packed and I'm ready for a few hours of sleep before rolling up the Turnpike first thing in the morning.

I will have updates from Thursday's early afternoon practice in Gainesville from both Miami and Florida and will also be updating my Facebook and Twitter sites throughout the weekend. 

Feel free to sign up and join the fun.

For instant updates, sign up here:

Twitter: @OnFrozenPond

Facebook: On Frozen Pond

Go ahead and sign up for both. Might as well. Don't cost nothing.

Well, that's all I got. See you at the Turkey Lake Service Plaza.

-- George Richards

June 04, 2010

Bridgewater talks UM commitment

NEW YORK -- Just got off the phone with Miami Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who called me to confirm that he has committed to the Canes. Here is a short interview I was able to conduct with him in the middle of the Marlins-Mets game.

Q: Why did you decide now was the time to commit to UM?
"Right now, heading into the summer, I figured it was just a good time to do it. I just called coach McGriff and coach Shannon and told them about it. They were actually about to speak at a banquet in Chicago, so I didn't have a chance to talk to them."

Q: Are you still going to take your visits?
"I don't know about the visits. Me and my mom have to talk about that.

Q: Why UM?
"I'm going to be the only quarterback they're going to take. They're in my backyard. They've sent a large number of players and quarterbacks to the NFL. I just want to go there and become the next great one."

Q: Did the fact [former Northwestern quarterback] Jacory Harris is the man at UM play a factor for you in choosing UM at all?
"Not really. Jacory is cool. We're friends. But I'm looking forward to playing with all those guys who went to Northwestern.

Q: How much is this about you wanting to just get the recruiting process over with?
"Honestly, I want to be done with recruiting. I mean, right now, I'm just enjoying it. But it does get crazy."

Q: UM isn't going to have a big class. Do you know for sure you are going to be the only QB in this class?
"I don't know if it was a promise or not. They just said I'd be the only QB they would take."

Q: Is it important for you to play right away?
"It's important to me, but it's not that important. In college, the game is faster, you have to learn more plays. I know I want to learn the system. If I can play right away, I would. But I know it's going to take at least a little time. I just want to go in and compete, fight to get on the field."

Q: You sound relaxed.
"I'm excited. I really am. I just don't like talking about it so much. I like playing football. I like letting my play talk for me. That's it. But I'm happy."

Northwestern 2011 duo "commits" to Canes

NEW YORK -- I'm covering the Marlins-Mets up here at CitiField, but felt compelled to pass along the news that a source at UM has confirmed reports that Miami Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and receiver Eli Rogers have committed to the Canes.

Teddy Bridgewater.JPG Bridgewater, the No. 1 recruit in 2010 in Miami-Dade County, hasn't returned phone calls from The Miami Herald since Canesport first quoted Rogers saying both he and his star quarterback had called Hurricanes coaches to inform them of their decision. Rogers hasn't returned phone calls either. 

But he did tell Canesport.com: "Me and Teddy just committed. We just decided we wanted to do it and let the world know. Since me and Teddy are so close we decided to go on the same day. Today Teddy said, `Let's make it official and do it,' so that's what we did."

Northwestern coach Billy Rolle said he hasn't spoken to Bridgewater or Rogers "lately," and has only heard reports they've committed. "I always let my kids handle their commitments," Rolle told The Miami Herald. "If they've committed, I don't know about it. But when I do talk to them, I'll ask."

Bridgewater, considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, completed 165 of his 262 attempts for 2,546 yards, 32 TDs and 12 INTs as a junior and ran for 379 yards and five scores as a junior. He was clearly the Hurricanes' No. 1 recruiting priority in the 2011 class.

Rogers, unranked by Rivals, finished third on the team at Northwestern as a junior with 35 catches for 551 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

The question now becomes how firm both commitments really are. Both players told me in March that regardless of whom they committed to, they would still take their five recruiting trips. UM coach Randy Shannon has said he takes commitments from players who still take visits with a grain of salt.

Northwestern has been a longtime pipeline to UM. They sent seven players there in 2008 including quarterback Jacory Harris. But I wouldn't consider this a done deal.