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The Coral Gables regional has gotten off to a rainy start. The practices scheduled for today were canceled.
"Hopefully the weather will improve very quickly," coach Jim Morris said. "It's 60 percent chance (of rain) today and tomorrow, but the field is in great shape. It's been covered since last night. It quits raining and we play. Hopefully the games will be on time tomorrow (with UM playing Stony Brook at 7 p.m. and the first game at 2 p.m.) and we'll be able to play."
Morris also hopes the team's leading hitter, Peter O'Brien, will be able to play. O'Brien had a setback this week and hasn't been able to swing a bat coming off a wrist injury.
He returned for the ACC Tournament but struggled to get power the final couple of games.
"He wasn't able to practice yesterday - that's not a good thing," Morris said. "We didn't practice Monday, Tuesday we didn't hit because we got rained out, and yesterday he couldn't hit. That's not a good sign. I don't know where he's at. Last time I saw him he was getting treatment, told me he felt better."
Morris said he may use O'Brien at DH if he's able to hit. O'Brien played catcher before the injury and then first base at the ACC Tournament, but Morris said O'Brien is uncomfortable fielding ground balls with the injury.
"He's trying to do some swings today," Morris said. "It's nothing that will hurt him physically other than being able to deal with the pain. He's having trouble rotating his wrist when he follows through, and it's creating pain. It's a question of how much pain he tolerates, how he feels. Hitting is a thing where you need to feel good. So I don't know. I'm hoping when I wake up and come to the ball park tomorrow that he goes `I can play.'"
Morris said if this was the regular season O'Brien likely wouldn't play "but it's do or die now. He's a force when he's healthy; we all know that. The No. 1 thing we need is his bat in the lineup."
The Hurricanes spent this morning working out indoors. Stony Brook enters regionals with a school record 46 wins and the top winning percentage (.807) in the nation. The Seawolves made their first ever appearance in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll on Monday, coming in at No. 25.
Morris said today that he will go with Friday night starter Eric Erickson in Game 1; Morris traditionally holds the team's ace for the second game in regionals, but UM has three strong starters in Erickson, Eric Whaley and Steven Ewing. Morris said he's uncertain who will pitch on Saturday and that it will come down to "if it's better to throw a left-hander (Ewing) or right-hander (Whaley) against the appropriate team."
Ewing said of not knowing what day he'll start that "Normally you have a set rotation, kind of get into a rhythm. I'm going to be ready whenever they call on me."
Of the decision to go with Erickson first, Morris said, "He's been our No. 1 guy and we felt he's the right guy to throw from the scouting report (of Stony Brook) - that's what we looked at. We know they're an outstanding club."
Erickson said he "wasn't surprised" when coaches told him he'd start the opening game.
"I guess they're going to stick with our normal rotation it seems like," Erickson said. "I've been in a rhythm throwing Friday nights all year, so hopefully this will be a smooth week I'm going to attack their hitters aggressively."
Morris said the team received scouting reports on Stony Brook but that there was no film available on the team. The Seawolves will start Tyler Johnson, who has a 9-1 record and 1.78 ERA with four complete games.
"We've got a scouting report on him," Morris said. "He's a right-handed pitcher, has got good stuff, throws strikes. He pitches over the plate, doesn't throw that hard, is a three-quarter angle guy. He's 84-88 (miles per hour) with a good breaking ball."
This Hurricane team has a high level of confidence after reaching the ACC title game and being rewarded with a home regional.
"This team is really confident right now," Ewing said "(The team is) really excited, especially when we heard we're hosting. It gave us new life, I feel like, and I think we're really confident and really prepared for this."
Erickson adds that "I think it was really a big boost for us to make it to the championship game in the ACC Tournament. It kind of gave us a taste of being in the spotlight and playing for a championship. Now we're hungry. We weren't able to bring that trophy home, and our ultimate goal is chasing the big trophy in the World Series. This is a great place for us to start here in Coral Gables."