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April 30, 2012Stay connected to the Canes. Sign-up for CaneSport.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone and register with CaneSport on FACEBOOK and TWITTER! Don't miss the all-new digital CANESPORT MAGAZINE - - covering every game inside and out.
What transpired Monday night at Alex Rodriguez Park has grown to become an all-too familiar feeling for Miami.
The Canes didn't hit and didn't play defense.
No. 21 Miami (27-17, 12-12 ACC) had more errors than hits, committing five errors on the night with just four hits, falling to No. 22 Virginia (31-14, 13-9 ACC) 7-4. The team totaled 14 errors over the swampy three-game series sweep that saw inclement weather throughout.
"Everyone's just scared to make a mistake, and we're playing that way," said Brad Fieger, who went two for four in the series finale. "And when you play like that, you make mistakes."
On the season, Miami has committed 79 errors over 44 games. The team has struggled even more in ACC games with 47 errors in 24 games, almost a 2:1 ratio.
"My whole career as a player or as a coach, I've never been in a situation where we've made so many errors," coach Jim Morris said. "Only thing I know is to work through it.
"The same thing with the hitting. As a team, we need to get hot hitting and we need to get sound defense."
Morris did not make any excuses regarding the rainy weather.
"It's actually to our advantage," Morris said. "We've got a home locker room. We're sitting in the home locker room while they're sitting in the dugout ... We just got outplayed."
With the three losses to Virginia, Miami now finds itself two games behind the Cavaliers for second in the ACC Coastal. The Hurricanes came into the series one game ahead.
Miami currently ranks sixth in the conference. The top eight teams advance to the conference tournament at season's end.
The momentum of the season has shifted immensely since the sweep of North Carolina three weeks ago. Since that series, Miami is 3-9 overall and has lost eight straight ACC games as the team continues to extend its previous record of five consecutive conference losses.
After getting swept by FSU in Tallahassee and now at home to Virginia, Miami baseball has been swept in two consecutive ACC series for the first time in its history. It's also the first time Virginia has swept Miami.
Eric Whaley (4-2, 2.76 ERA), after being scratched from the Sunday night start with flu-like symptoms, was expected to start Monday night, but never made it out. Once again not feeling well, Whaley was scratched less than an hour before the first pitch for freshman Christian Diaz.
"[Whaley] came in, tried to pitch, but he was actually throwing up probably five minutes before he was supposed to throw in the bullpen," Morris said. "So he couldn't pitch."
Diaz, who was making his second career start and first in the ACC, had a final line of three innings, four runs, three of them earned, five hits, one walk and one strikeout.
Against Miami, Virginia started right-hander Artie Lewicki. Lewicki went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs off three hits. He struck out five Canes while walking just one and had Miami hitters off balance all night.
Leadoff man Tyler Palmer feels the hitting struggles have been felt around the team, and it's not just on any one player.
"Hitting's contagious," Palmer said. "You can have one player that goes into a slump, but the whole team has gone into a slump the past couple of weeks. Hitting's contagious, and we just haven't found it yet."
Adam Sargent came on in relief of Diaz to start the fourth. Sargent shut out the Cavaliers in the fourth and fifth innings, working through two errors to come out of the fifth spotless, but then allowed three Virginia runs while recording just one out in the sixth.
The Cavaliers made some noise early against Diaz. Their three hits, including a two-run single by center fielder Mitchell Shifflett, plus a Stephen Perez error led to three runs in the second.
Virginia then added another run in the third when first baseman Jared King singled to right to bring home Virginia's leading hitter Stephen Bruno.
After being held hitless for the game's first three innings, the Canes responded to get one of those runs back in the fourth when clean-up hitter Fieger drove in leadoff man Palmer on a flare single to left-center.
Palmer hit a solo shot to left in the sixth, and the Canes added two runs in the bottom of the ninth, first with Perez scoring on a passed ball and then with Michael Broad plating Fieger on a groundout to second.
Chantz Mack, after being scratched from hitting in the No. 3 hole because he didn't make it back to Coral Gables from jury duty, pinch hit and grounded out for the final out of the game.
The Hurricanes will now have three days off before starting a three-game weekend series with Bethune-Cookman, Peter O'Brien's former school, Friday.
While the team's leading hitter has been hopeful he'd get to return from his wrist injury by the time he faced his former team, Morris says O'Brien is still in no shape to play. Morris says the following weekend series against Wake Forest would be a more realistic possibility.