Miami baseball hosts Duke in critical series to host NCAA regional


The Miami baseball team enters their final weekend of regular season play against Duke one of the hottest teams in the country. The Hurricanes have won 16 of their last 20 games.

The Miami baseball team won their last road series of the season at Wake Forest last weekend. The Hurricanes took the first two games of the series before losing the finale on Monday night in Winston-Salem. What has been a banged-up Miami Hurricanes roster in 2019 is starting to get healthier.

Right-handed starting pitcher Chris McMahon returned on Monday and pitched well in 2.2 innings before leaving because of being on a pitch count. Miami held a 6-4 lead entering the eighth. Wake Forest plated five in the eighth inning to take a 9-6 lead into the ninth. Miami scored one in the ninth before falling 9-7.

Hurricanes ace Evan McKendry will make his first start in nearly a month on Friday night against Duke. McKendry was 6-1 before going out with the injury. Brian VanBelle has been the staff ace with McKendry and McMahon out and will start the first game of the series against Duke on Thursday night.

The loss to Wake Forest on Monday night blew a chance for Miami to edge into a first-place tie in the ACC Coastal Division with Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes won two out of three against the Yellow Jackets in March. Miami and North Carolina are tied for second one game behind Georgia Tech in the ACC Coastal Standings.

The Hurricanes lost two of three to North Carolina earlier this season. North Carolina hosts North Carolina State this weekend and Georgia Tech plays Pittsburgh in Atlanta. The winner of the ACC Coastal Division is the automatic number two seed in the ACC Tournament that starts Tuesday in Durham.

Louisville will clinch the Atlantic Divison with one win over Florida State this weekend. Two wins will give the Cardinals the top overall seed in the ACC Tournament. NC State and Florida State are in second place in the Atlantic Division, 16-11 overall in the ACC. Miami wins the tiebreaker with the Seminoles but loses to the Wolfpack.

Currently, Miami would be the fifth seed in the ACC Tournament. UNC did not play Florida State this season and we will know the results of their tiebreaker with the Wolfpack either Friday or Saturday. The Tar Heels would be the fourth seed the way things stand now. That would put them and the Hurricanes in the same pool.

Four pools of three teams each play a round-robin in the ACC Tournament. The bottom two teams in the conference do not make the ACC Tournament. Boston College needs one win to eliminate Pittsburgh and two to eliminate Virginia Tech from the ACC Tournament.

Duke enters the final weekend of play 29-22 overall and 14-13 in the ACC. A weekend sweep by the Blue Devils over the Hurricanes would vault them past Miami in the ACC Standings.

"Series InformationGAMES 53-55 CORAL GABLES, Fla.Dates: Thursday, May 16, 2019 – Saturday, May 18, 2019Game Times (ET): 7:00 p.m. | 7:00 p.m. | 1:00 p.m.Site: Coral Gables, Fla. | Mark Light Field (4,999)DUKE BLUE DEVILS (29-22, 14-13 ACC)Head Coach: Chris Pollard (Davidson, 1996)Career Division I Record: 612-485-3 (20th season) | Record at Duke: 227-167 (seventh season)Thursday: SR RHP Ben Gross (6-4, 4.08 ERA)Friday: JR LHP Bill Chillari (2-3, 5.09 ERA)Saturday: SO RHP Bryce Jarvis (4-0, 4.53 ERA)17 MIAMI HURRICANES (36-16, 16-11 ACC)Head Coach: Gino DiMare (Miami, 1992)Career Division I Record: 36-16 (first season) | Record at Miami: 36-16 (first season)Thursday: R-JR RHP Brian Van Belle (8-2, 3.20 ERA)Friday: JR RHP Evan McKendry (6-1, 4.53 ERA)Saturday: SO RHP Chris McMahon (2-2, 4.06 ERA)Broadcast and Social Media InformationTV: ACC Network Extra (all home games)Flagship Radio: 790 The Ticket (All Three Games)Student Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM | (all games)Spanish Radio: 990 AM ESPN Deportes (Sunday)Twitter Updates: @CanesBaseball / @MiamiHurricanesLive Stats: HurricaneSports.comCourtesy of HurricaneSports"

The pressure entering the final weekend of the regular season is far different for the Miami baseball team in 2019 than it was the past two seasons. The Hurricanes were on the bubble in 2017 and ’18 and wound up missing the NCAA Tournament both seasons after previously making 44 consecutive NCAAs.

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The Miami baseball team enters the weekend against Duke with some work to do. The Hurricanes are currently 16th in the Division I Baseball RPI. That is the last spot to host a regional in Coral Gables in two weeks. Two wins against Duke this weekend and two in the ACC Tournament should be enough to hold on to that last spot.