Who is standing between the Gators and a trip to the College World Series? Those bastards from Miami. Hit it Tom.
It is only right that No. 4 UF (45-15) has to face the hated Hurricanes (43-18) to get back to Omaha. Game 1 is tonight at 7pm, Game 2 is Saturday at 7pm and a possible Game 3 would be Sunday at 7pm. Friday's game is on ESPN and the weekend games are on ESPN2.
As is always the case with the Canes, they have a team stacked with prospects and studs. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is hitting .411 this season (and .538 OBP) with 14 home runs. Third baseman Harold Martinez leads Miami with 21 homers and 69 RBI. UF actually has the edge in team hitting, .303 to .298 for UM. But as good as Austin Maddox (.339, 17 homers, 69 RBI) and Matt den Dekker (.361, 13 HR) have been, Miami might have a slight edge on offense.
Pitching wins championships though and UF's starters and bullpen have a slight edge over Miami's staff. UM's Chris Hernandez (10-3, 2.77) has 106 strikeouts, 41 more than UF's number one, Alex Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39). But UF has Kevin Chapman (11 saves, 1.28) who has shown he can get six-out saves. UM has four guys who combined for 12 saves. Down the line, UF and UM have even second and third starters. UF builds on their pitching advantage by having slightly better long men (Tommy Toledo) and middle relief (Jeff Barfield). It's important to note as well that Miami was extended to a playoff game against Texas A&M in the Regionals and did not finish the Aggies until Tuesday.
Florida took 2 of 3 in the regular season series during March in Coral Gables. The Gators have homefield advantage this time, but UF will need great pitching to get to the College World Series.