Coming off of a loss against Coastal Carolina on Tuesday, the North Carolina baseball team (18-16, 12-12 ACC) will host Miami (21-11, 13-10 ACC) for a three-game series starting on Friday.
After winning a series against Duke, the Tar Heels fell to Pittsburgh, losing two out of the three games in the series. UNC will look to regain its momentum in the upcoming series versus Miami.
The Tar Heels bested the Hurricanes in their last matchup in 2019, winning two out of three games in the series. This weekend, they look to come out on top again and break Miami’s four-game winning streak.
UNC had a slow start in its series against Pittsburgh, scoring only four runs in the first two games. Despite scoring 10 runs in the final game of the series, the Tar Heels reverted back to their offensive struggles, putting up just three against Coastal Carolina.
North Carolina will need to get the bats rolling early if it wants to defeat Miami. The Hurricanes are coming off of a 3-0 series win against Clemson, in which they scored 22 runs in the first two games. If UNC wants to come out on top, it will need to string together consecutive hits rather than spread them across innings.
North Carolina will rely on sophomore outfielder Justice Thompson, who leads the team with a .326 batting average and 42 hits. Sophomore outfielder Caleb Roberts is also a force in the lineup, hitting .306 and leading the team with 27 RBIs.
The Hurricanes enter the series a spot ahead of the Tar Heels in the ACC Coastal Division standings.
After going on a six-game winning streak at the end of March and beginning of April, Miami lost all three games in its series against Pittsburgh.
But Miami was able to turn things around, defeating Florida Gulf Coast and then sweeping Clemson last weekend.
The Hurricanes are led at the plate by redshirt junior outfielder Christian Del Castillo, who leads the team with 44 hits and a batting average of .364.
First-year infielder Yohandy Morales also poses a threat, leading the team in home runs with nine and RBIs with 31. Sophomore outfielder Jordan Lala is another player to look out for. Although he is only hitting .227 for the season, he leads the team with 34 runs and is a skilled base-stealer, going 9-12 in attempts this season.
To contain Miami’s hitting, UNC’s pitching staff will need to be strong in this series. Keep an eye out for starting pitcher Austin Love who will look to set the tone on Friday.
Love leads the team with 67 strikeouts, followed by sophomore reliever Nik Pry, who has 42. Junior Caden O’Brien is coming off of a strong performance against Coastal Carolina, pitching 2.1 innings with no earned runs and tallying two strikeouts.
The Tar Heels will need to focus on strong pitching, especially following productive innings at the plate, as well as minimizing errors on defense if they want to defeat the Hurricanes.
A series win will help one of these teams keep in contention for the top spot in the Coastal Division.