Florida State Sweeps Miami

Another three-game series fail for Miami this weekend. Much like getting worked by top-ranked Florida in early March (7-5, 13-5 and 8-5 losses), this time around second-ranked. Florida State played the role of bully, sweeping the Canes in Tallahassee.

Miami was pounded 11-2 in game one, fell 6-1 on Saturday and gave up Sunday’s showdown in dramatic fashion, an 8-7 loss in extra innings. It was the Noles first sweep of the Canes since the 2002 season.

Honestly, the series not even worth ‘recapping’ as it’s the same story over and over. Bats either not coming alive, or failing miserably, pitching not getting the job done, mental errors and mistakes on defense. The Canes had two errors in Friday night’s loss and followed up with four on Saturday.

Sunday was error-free, but proved to be feast or famine. Miami scored seven in the fourth inning, including a grand slam by Michael Broad, but went scoreless in the rest of ten inning affair.

The Canes left eight on base, including two in the top of the tenth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Garrett Kennedy went down swinging. Florida State batters then singled, struck out, stole a base were hit by a pitch and again singled, driving in the walk-off game-winner.

Saturday night’s showdown was close, on paper. The Canes had six hits to the Noles’ seven, but four errors to FSU’s zero. Two errors came in an eventual four-run second inning for Florida State.

In Friday night’s 11-2 thrashing, Miami ace Eric Erickson was roughed up, lasting only five innings and matching a career-high six earned runs. Erickson entered the game with a 6-0 record against the Seminoles.

The Canes gave up thirteen hits on Friday night, as well as a five-run seventh inning, killing any notion of a comeback and surrendering any momentum it brought into a brutal road series.

Miami is now 7-8 on the road and with RPI giving more credit to away-from-home wins (125% to 75%), is destroying it’s post-season fate one loss at a time. The Canes have also dropped to No. 22 in the latest AP poll, begging the question – what in the hell is wrong with this squad, sitting at 26-14 and 12-9 in the ACC?

Head coach Jim Morris has relied on coach-speak when talking to the media. After Saturday’s loss, Morris tried to make sense of another four-error performance.

“We practice everyday around what mistakes we’re making,” Morris said. “The bottom line is that guys have to clutch up and make plays in the clutch.”

Hardly an earth-shattering take, but in the same breath, what really can be said? These are collegiate student athletes who earned scholarships to play baseball at the University of Miami.

Routine errors, mental mistakes and unclutch play shouldn’t be the case at this level. Dropped balls in foul territory prior to a pair of base hits that resulted in runs? That was the case on Friday night. On Saturday, an errant throw on a double-play attempt, a poor relay throw (following a single to the outfield) and a balk, were three second-inning flubs that allowed the Noles to put four on the board.

On one level you have to ask how Miami coaches are supposed to school talented kids on basic fundamentals that are seemingly lost right now. It’s not a matter of these kids not knowing what to do – it’s a matter of getting them to trust themselves and to routinely do what they’ve been doing for years – which is the million dollar challenge right now.

Regardless, it all has to come back to a coaching staff that recruited these players, is responsible with developing them and has to produce with said talent. Why are Florida and Florida State’s kids getting it done while Miami’s aren’t?

We can play the scholarship game all day long – a point of made by fellow allCanes blogger Brian ‘The Beast’ London, though I personally struggle to buy it. Especially when schools like Stanford and Rice find ways to succeed despite limited scholarships and high-priced tuition rates.

Beyond that, it’s not like Miami doesn’t belong on the same field as its highly-ranked, Sunshine State counterparts. Losses to the Gators and Seminoles have all been the difference between smart, clutch play and boneheaded mistakes made by kids who know better.

As a long-time supporter of this program, like many others, it’s impossible to not take for granted the run Miami baseball had in the 80s, 90s and early 00s. It seemed like Omaha was a given – and for a while, it was.

From there, joining the ACC proved more difficult than life as an Independent and those extra handful of games lost each year – including more road trips – kills the RPI and puts Miami in a real pinch come the post-season – the last three ending in Regional, Super Regional and Regional defeats in Gainesville, while Florida advanced each time.

Fourteen games remain before the ACC Baseball Tournament and a safe bet, based on recent play is to predict 10-4 down the stretch. Maybe a game or two better or worse, but it’s safe to believe that something along the line of a 36-18 finish is in the cards, which sets the stage for another post-season road trip and colossal failure.

Miami wrapped the 2011 regular season 34-20 and went 2-1 at the ACC Tourney, which earned the Canes a trip to the Gainesville Regional, where UM beat Jacksonville twice, but fell to the Gators, 5-4 and 11-4, ending the season.

Based on the sweeps by Florida and Florida State this year, as well as head-scrathing losses to Duke, Maryland, Clemson, Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and Virginia Tech, how can even the most optimistic Cane feel good about where this program sits in late April?

The ACC Tourney starts a month from today. What can Miami do between now and then to fix the basic, fundamental errors that have plagued this team more and more as the season rolls on? We’ll see.

This next month is where Coach Morris and staff have to earn their paychecks and should there be another colossal fail, might have to start defending their jobs.

The past is the past – and what a glorious past it’s been, but truth be told, this program hasn’t truly had a meaningful moment since tanking in the top of the ninth against Georgia in the opening round of the 2008 College World Series.

Miami hasn’t sniffed Omaha since and don’t appear headed back this June, which at least warrants some off-season discussion as to the future of Hurricane baseball. – C.B.



12 thoughts on “Florida State Sweeps Miami

  1. Based on the fiasco up in Talahassee, i,ve changed my mind about coaching changes. Here,s what i propose.

    1. Tell Jim that this is his curtain year. He can coach thru the end of the year, but time,s up. Dosen,t matter who finishes the year, this team is figmo. It,s an embarassement to UM and the nationwide followers.

    2. RIGHT NOW, hire his replacement and immediately send the replacement on recruiting visits.

    3. Tell the new guy that he has to hire/replace the batting, pitching and fieldong coaches with FIRST CLASS people. Sort of like colazzo (pitching) and Turtle (i was at mark light the nite he left – someone printed and handed out green signs of support) and a coach as good as the other guy that left.

    4. Pay the new Guy a minimum base salary and a bonus for every 5 star (or wharever) he signs. This will send the signal that he had go stay off his ass and hit the recruiting trail.

    One final comment. The sports guys, (like the manager of this blog) are and have been too soft on Jim. Like “Basically like the past is the past – and what a glorious past it’s been, but truth be told, this program hasn’t truly had a meaningful moment since tanking in the top of the ninth against Georgia in the opening round of the 2008 College World Series.”. OK, then why haven,t you been raising hell since spring 2009 ???


    1. Ken – Makes sense in theory, but it’s not reality.

      You don’t give Jim Morris a late-April pink slip after what he’s done for Miami the past few decades. He won as many titles here as the legendary Ron Fraser and while that shouldn’t buy any coach a “lifetime pass”, it does earn them some respect as their career comes to a close.

      As for point number four, no good coach is going to come to Miami for a “minimum base salary” and bonuses / incentives based on the degree or caliber player he signs. So you can get paid for a five-star who winds up underachieving, but get no credit for reeling in a three-star who plays as well as a five-star?

      As for being “soft” on Jim … speaking for me, Canes305, I’d disagree. I call it as I see it and was pretty straightforward all season that the 2012 year has to play out and without post-season success, that would help build a case for the end of the Morris era.

      I cannot speak for The Beast, nor will I attempt to. He sees things his way and I see them mine. I will say this – he is a UM grad that worked for WVUM, other local affiliates, has covered Hurricane athletics for years and has built relationships with coaches. I don’t have those same relationships, so when I give my opinions on all things The U, I am doing so as a long-time fan with no ties. If I covered the program more closely and got to know the people I was writing about, I might know them on another level or would have a harder time being objective.

      At the end of the day, Miami baseball hasn’t done much since the 2008 season and if 2012 ends with another embarrassing post-season smack-up, even the biggest Morris fan are going to have a hard time defending the state of the program and another toilet season.

      1. That “what you’ve done for me” rather than “what are you doing for me” is what runs programs into the ground.

        See Bobby Bowden.

        See Miami’s football program.

        This is almost like watching Miami’s football program under Coker.. Floundering, absolutely pathetic against decent programs, maybe getting a big win/sweep in here or there.. Only to shit the bed when it matters. Even keel for a few seasons before the bottom absolutely falls out (see 2006, after the LSU beatdown).

        Football. Basketball. Ladies Basketball. They’ve all got their new leadership. Time to finish the douching.

        1. Hard to argue. Those overly defending Morris are too close to him or the program. What he’s done at UM has been amazing, but no one can argue that 2009 through 2012 have been a HUGE dropoff from what’s considered acceptable, quality baseball in Coral Gables.

  2. I would also like to pass on a thought for “the beast” because i don,t know how to contact him directly.

    The “scholarship cost issue” is bullcrap for several reasons. First of all 50% of UM is yes, more than 50% of UF or FSU. But it dose,t have to be 50%. jim can give out any percent he wants. A kid down the street just got 90% over at a school in WV. Yea, it means less coverage, but its quantity vs quality.

    The “cost to the parents” issue assumes that all good players are poor and all bad players are rich. So we get the bad-rich kids. But this is also not true. There are a lot of rick california kids that can play ball.

    You point out private schools. Stanford, rice and others that have good programs. Princeton, duke, wake forest and vanderbuilt are others

    Finally, a college cost for 1-2 years is not a big deal. My son is spending riight now $4000/year in travel ball and the grandson has 5 more years before college.

    The trick here is to make the “miami experience” worth it. That,s been true up ’till now.

    1. Good points. I don’t subscribe to Beast’s theories on scholarships, but respect the argument he’s made. Again, I disagree, but do feel he’s laid out a good argument for those who see things that way.

      Side note … anyone wonder if Jim Morris plans on this being his swan song? With the return of Gino DiMare, could he be groomed to take over next year should Jim step down? Timing-wise is could make sense. Not saying that’d be the best hire for UM, but with Morris getting up there in age, it’s not completely illogical.

  3. Was gino the other guy, together with Turtle and Collezo (probably misspelled) that we lost. I know the “Turtle thing” was a disagreement with Jim, and the pitching coach got caught in the extra/excess compensation thing.

    But we never did seem to replace this quality.

    Yea , my compensation suggestion was a little “tounge in cheek” but i was meaning to stress that we need a yound agressive go-getter on the recruiting trail, and the position coaches, if there worth having, should be able to handle game day if necessary.

    I,m 35 miles north of UVA. Show Brian $2.5 million and wait and see what he says. UVA is not paying southern baseball school $$$$$. Hell, they,re probably paying the Lacrosse coach more than baseball. Short good weather season. 45degrees and raining today.

    I know UF looked closely.

    1. Yes, Gino DiMare left a few years back to spend more time with family, but now that his kids have grown up a bit, he was ready to get back in the game.

      Behind closed doors, I could see Morris telling him a year or so ago that he’d be stepping down soon, welcoming DiMare back and grooming him to take over. Let’s also not forget that his father, Paul DiMare is on the Board of Trustees and is very high up at UM. The DiMare family bleeds orange and green through and through.

      Gino is a good coach, a good fit and has local ties. He’s also a product of Westminster Christian and learned from legendary coach Rich Hofman, while playing for Ron Fraser at Miami and coaching under Morris.

      As for some of these other pie-in-the-sky names, I think we have to let that go. Guys like Brian O’Connor deserve a call, but fans have to realize that some guys are happy where they’re at. It’s like all that chatter about going after a Chris Petersen or Gary Patterson when in the midst of a search for a football coach. We don’t know how happy O’Connor might be where he’s at. Plus, Florida is a MUCH MORE desirable job than Miami (these days) and if the Gators pursued and didn’t land or go after, why would he leave a successful Virginia program for a Miami one that needs some work, as well as a fan base that would be up his ass constantly, with comparisons to the success of Fraser and Morris?

  4. It’s time for Morris to “retire”. He’s obviously lost his touch as far as coaching goes. Time for a change. I don’t care HOW many games this guy won in the past, this program is becoming the worst college baseball program in the state. The team can’t stay on the field with UF and FSU anymore……and losing to some newbie like FGCU is just unforgiveable.

  5. the only thing with baseball scholarships is that for d1 lvl is you get 11.7 scholarships. so to give 90% you only have 10.5 left to give to 24 players. in the long run its not worth giving a guy that much unless he was gonna be playing for the yankees right out of the draft and turn down millions of dollars to go to miami. At the age of 18 if you could get a million dollar signing bonus or save 144k dollars over 4 years or 3 years at miami and still have to pay 16k. I would rather take the 6x the money i would save. even being a miami fan the oppurnity cost is too great.

  6. “What have you done for us lately, Morris?” Not much. Recruiting has been dismal over the past several years. Poor fielding and hitting recruits. A search should be started to find a new coach. Living on past years can only go so far. UM is now in last place in FL regarding college baseball. Sad.

  7. More on Brian UVA. When UF came calling 2 years ago, he had a lot to prove at virginia. That,s over, he,s taken the team to the NCAA,s.

    The situation at UVA is different than most southern baseball schools. The folks up here probably think more about men,s and women,s lacrosse than baseball. They also have a good field hockey team and tennis is BIG. In other words a lot more than just baseball.

    Also, the season is short. Frost and 55 degrees yesterday.

    I would definitely give him a call. Great guy, and if you can recruit into UVA baseball, you can recruit into UM baseball.

    Don,t be scared off by the UF thing. That was premature, this would be not.

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