Miami Hurricanes: 2023 Coral Gables Regional Preview

Miami Hurricanes Coral Gables

Miami, Florida – After a deep run in the ACC Baseball Championship, the Miami Hurricanes are once again hosting the Coral Gables regional. Awarded the #9 national seed, the Canes are participating in their fourth straight regional. This will be the second consecutive year UM begins its quest for the College World Series at home. Their foes are teams they have not faced in a long time with one brand new opponent. They will face the Maine Black Bears Friday night. The Lousiana Ragin’ Cajuns and the Texas Longhorns go first in the afternoon.

Finishing the regular season 37-18, Miami went 2-0 in pool play beating #1 ranked Wake Forest in the semifinals before falling to a late rally from Clemson in the final. Although the impressive effort raised their RPI considerably, the Hurricanes were just shy of a top-eight national seed. This will be The U’s 49th NCAA Tournament Appearance. UM is 130-52 overall in regionals and 89-19 when they’ve played at Coral Gables. The team hopes to tap into the magic of home-field advantage where they finished 28-5 at the Light. Here are the other three teams that make up the Coral Gables regional:

Maine Black Bears

Record: 32-19 (19-5 America East Conference)

RPI: 124

Tidbit: Maine is this year’s America East Champion. Miami is 67-15 overall versus the Black Bears. Their last meeting was March 2-4, 2018 at the Light.  The Hurricanes took two of three then in Jim Morris’ last year as head coach. We had Jeb Bargfeldt, Evan McKendry, Daniel Federman, and Alex Toral among others. Miami finished a very disappointing 29-27.

Players to watch: Jeremiah Jenkins, Quinn McDaniel, and Jake Rainess make a talented trio. Jenkins is slashing .374/.504/.763 with a tremendous 1.267 OPS. The sophomore notched a conference-best 20 home runs and 75 RBIs. McDaniel, meanwhile, mirrors similar numbers hitting .365 complemented by a 1.237 OPS leading the team in walks (58) and stealing 29 bases. Rainess leads both the program and the conference with 38 steals. He accumulated a .317 batting average with 16 homers and 46 RBIs.

Lousiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Record: 40-22 (18-12 Sun Belt)

RPI: 47

Tidbit: Lousiana had a solid regular season making it all the way to the Sun Belt Tournament Championship exceeding postseason expectations. The Ragin’ Cajuns were 22-10 against non-conference opponents. Miami has never faced them before and may do so this weekend.

Players to watch: Kyle DeBarge leads the offense hitting .370 but he is far from the only threat on their roster. Julian Brock leads the team in RBIs (62) and home runs (11). Cooper Rawls recorded the second-most wins (10) and second-best ERA (3.03) in the Sun Belt contributing as a starter and reliever. Jackson Nezuh was tied for the third-most wins in the conference (9) and led the team in strikeouts (93) which was also the fourth-best in the Sun Belt.

Texas Longhorns

Record: 38-20 (15-9 Big 12 Conference)

RPI: 28

Tidbit: In 2023 the team overcame high player turnover including the loss of two key pitchers as Texas finished the season strong encompassing an important sweep of West Virginia. As a result, the Longhorns secured the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Unfortunately for them, they crashed out losing both games. Not a single team in the state of Texas was among the 16 regional hosts. The program has made it to the CWS in the past two seasons. The Longhorns and Hurricanes haven’t squared off since the 2003 College World Series. The Canes were outmatched losing both bouts 13-2 and 5-1. The 11-run loss was Miami’s worst in their CWS history at the time. In 2015 UM lost to Florida 15-3 in their College World Series opener for their most-lopsided loss.

Players to watch: When you talk about the Longhorn offense Dylan Campbell should be the first person on everyone’s mind. The junior from Houston, Texas is on a 35-game hitting streak dating back to March 25th. Hitting .341 Campbell recorded 12 round-trippers and 44 RBIs as well as 25 stolen bases. He’s part of a pretty potent offense that also has Peyton Powell (.358), Jared Thomas (.333), and Porter Brown (.332) all of whom can really give Canes pitching fits. There’s also strength on the mound. Lucas Gordan went 6-1 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 15 starts. Lebarron Johnson Jr. was 7-3 tallying a 2.82 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 11 starts.

Impressions

Miami’s bullpen usage is something to keep a close eye on, especially in their first game versus Maine. Recall last year’s regional when the Hurricanes tapped five relievers in their 11-6 victory over Canisius. It was certainly a factor in the tournament. The weather might also have a role. Heavy rain delayed the start of the 2022 Coral Gables regional creating a more condensed schedule. Coach Gino DiMare has decided to go with Gage Ziehl out of the gates. I would have preferred to save him for Texas but let’s see how it turns out. Heading into the opener there were a lot of options to go with. UM could use Alejandro Rosario or Karson Ligon though how far they go is very important for the relievers. Speaking of, Ronaldo Gallo, Alejandro Torres, and Ben Chestnutt can also be the starting pitchers this weekend. The furthest Gallo has gone this season has been the fifth inning, Torres the fourth, and Chestnutt making it to the sixth. The Hurricanes’ arm depth will be put to the test. The pitching and the base running are considered weaknesses for them. For strengths, it’s clearly the hitting and defense.

Only one team concerns me and that’s the Longhorns. Apparently, Texas has a combined record of 61-27 against the other three teams in the regional. With that said, anything can happen (2021 Gainsville regional, anybody?) and there are sure to be some upsets taking place across the country. Momentum is a precious thing in the postseason. With threats up and down the lineup, headlined by Yohandy Morales and CJ Kayfus, complemented by the country’s best closer in Andrew Walters, winning Friday night will be a good first step. If they play.

📸Credit: Canes Baseball

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