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February 28, 2013

Baseball ready to break 11-game losing streak vs. UF














When it comes to UM vs. Florida in baseball, the Gators have been pretty much unbeatable in recent seasons.

UF has won 11 in a row against Miami, including Regionals in 2011 and Super Regionals in 2010. The last win for the Canes in the series was 9-6 in Coral Gables on March 6, 2010.

Three years.

That's how long it's been.

Now Miami is poised for revenge. The Canes are flying high with a 9-0 record, and the team travels to Gainesville this weekend to face a struggling Gator team that has lost five in a row and is 3-6 overall. UF lost much of its team from a year ago.

"I know what they've lost from last year, but every year they bring in talent," senior Michael Broad said. "Even though they're on a little bit of a downside right now they're still a very talented club which can turn it on at any time."

UF most recently lost to North Florida, and before that was swept at home by Florida Gulf Coast.

"We really want to get over the hump, this losing streak we have against Florida," Chantz Mack said. "We've been focusing one game at a time thus far."

Coach Jim Morris added, "Our guys have played pretty well. It's a young club - we still have some questions to be answered. But it's a good start for us. I'm excited and looking forward to the challenge of going up to Gainesville."

After its most recent game, Morris spoke to the team about getting the UM program back on track after some down seasons.

"We talked that we need to change things, get our respect back, and we're ready this year," Mack said. "We have a good winning streak going, and we want to keep that momentum going. To beat a big rival like Florida would be huge for us."

The Canes will stick with their regular pitching rotation for the series - Chris Diaz followed by Javi Salas and Andrew Suarez.

The team's top two returning starting pitchers, Eric Whaley and Bryan Radziewski, will be available in relief coming off injury - they both pitched short stints recently and Morris said he's unsure when they'll return to their starting duties.

Radziewski said today that he "feels great."

"I'm happy to be healthy," he said. "I know I'm not 100 percent yet, the velocity isn't there, but sooner or later it'll come."

Radziewski said he's throwing "three or four" miles per hour slower than when he was healthy last year.

Whaley said his shoulder stiffness is gone and that "my arm felt good, the best it's felt in a while. I thought my velocity was there, so that's a good thing. My shoulder wasn't bothering me at all when I was out there. It was good."

Of the 9-0 start to the year, Broad said, "We haven't got into ACC play yet, haven't gotten to (perceived) top tier teams. But every team's been a challenge, is good in their own ways. We learned a lot from our team playing other teams. It's been a good learning experience. We've had some tight ones (with four come-from-behind victories). All those things make you grow as a team."

Radziewski adds that "we just want to break that (losing) streak. We know we're hot right now, know they're not doing too good. We're not going to go there overconfident because we know in past years what's happened. We're going to try and go in there and get two, hopefully three (wins)."

Players and Morris attribute the 9-0 start to strong pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.

"The defense has played extremely well, and our starting pitching has given up very few runs," Morris said. "Offensively we've done a good job of doing little things to win games."

What would make this a successful series?

"Of course we want to win every game, but as long as we come out of there winning the series that would be successful," Whaley said. "It would be great if we can win all three, but we have to take it one game at a time."

* David Thompson, who is off to a strong start with a team-high six doubles and 14 RBI, also is on football scholarship as a QB. He said today he doesn't envision participating in any of the spring football practices even if he has an off day from baseball.

Asked if he thinks he may wind up having to choose one sport over the other during his UM career, Thompson said, "I hope not. We'll see how it goes. I try not to think about it."

* Of Grant Heyman, a highly touted recruit who has played in four games off the bench, Morris said, "We're trying to get him into games - The talent level is there - he has a very high ceiling. ... He's going to be a very good player for us."

* Brad Fieger is batting .438 and Morris said of his play that "He hit fourth for us last year, didn't have a good fall, pre-season. Now he's leading our team in hitting. Some guys are like that."


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