University of Miami usual midweek pitcher Steven Ewing was named the starter Wednesday by coach Jim Morris for the Hurricanes’ opening game against Jacksonville in the Gainesville Regional that begins at noon Friday.
"Nothing different than what we've done in the past,'' Morris told me a couple hours ago. "We try to look at the pitchers that will match up best against the different teams. The real deal is you're going up there to win the regionals and we feel this gives us the best opportunity.''
Ewing, a 6-2, 223-pound left-handed sophomore from Orlando, is 7-2 with a 2.77 earned run average – second best among UM’s starting rotation. He throws a fastball, curve, slider and changeup, and used to rely on his slider as his out pitch until "he lost the feel for it'' against FAU. "I think I'm starting to find it again, so hopefully it will be back.''
Ewing’s only two losses this season came against Florida Atlantic University. He has 12 appearances and started 11 games. Opponents are hitting .213 against him. If you recall, Ewing was the one put in to replace Eric Whaley after a 7 1/2-hour rain delay took Whaley out of contention against Virginia. Ewing allowed one run on two hits in three innings.
The Hurricanes’ youthful pitching rotation this season led with ace freshman Bryan Radziewski (9-2, 3.30), followed by sophomore Eric Whaley (7-5, 2.55), sophomore E.J. Encinosa (5-5, 2.90) and Ewing.
Jacksonville will start its ace, left-handed senior Matthew Tomshaw, who is 8-3 with a 3.78 ERA. Opponents are hitting .291 against him.
Morris hasn’t indicated who will start in the second game of the double-elimination tournament, which also features No. 2 national seed Florida and No. 4 regional seed Manhattan College. He did, however, give a couple options.
"I would think that the second game would be B-Rad or Whaley, one of the two. We’re going to make a decision after we get there."
The Hurricanes are 36-21. Jacksonville, which defeated the Gators this month 11-2 in a midweek game, is 36-22.
--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN