Canes Carry Hot Bats into Clash with Crimson

Canes Carry Hot Bats into Clash with Crimson

by Josh White

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Baseball is a game of failure.

Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams, who is considered one of the greatest hitters in the sport’s history, famously said, “Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”

The University of Miami baseball team experienced the tough realities of hitting at the end of last season. But after a long offseason of self-reflection, evaluation and hard work, the Hurricanes have flexed their muscles at the plate to begin the 2022 campaign.

Miami (5-0) will look to continue its hot start at the dish when the Hurricanes welcome the Harvard Crimson for a three-game series, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We really put our heads together,” said assistant coach Norberto Lopez, who works with Miami’s hitters and catchers. “[Head coach Gino DiMare] mentored me a lot on things we needed to change. He opened my eyes to things we had to improve. We mapped out a plan of how we were going to approach this year.”

The Hurricanes re-emphasized their offensive mindset and approach heading into the 2022 season.

Over its first five games, Miami has reaped early benefits.

The Hurricanes are slashing .306/.426/.553 and outscoring their opponents by 40 runs. Eight different Hurricanes have combined to mash nine home runs along the way.

“I do feel like the bats are jumping through the zone a little quicker,” DiMare said. “We’ve swung the bat pretty good. We have really emphasized our bread and butter, what we’ve always done as hitters here, and it’s doing a good job of keeping our feet underneath us, staying tall, being very, very quiet and try to be disciplined.”

During the offseason, Miami went back to the fundamentals.

The Hurricanes spent time tracking pitches and not even swinging the bat, keying in on developing a hyper-focused approach.

“We’re having taxing at-bats. It all starts with being in our legs, taking pitches the right way and tracking the ball out of the hand,” Lopez said. “You have to start being in a good position and then make a good swing decision in your mind. It has to be automatic. How do you do that? You see a lot of pitches.”

Despite only having two hitters who made more than 20 starts a year ago return, the Hurricanes have experienced tremendous success over the first week of the season.

“We have a lot of new faces in the lineup, but all these guys look like they’ve been here a long time,” said shortstop Dominic Pitelli. “I think we’re showing what we can do.”

And while it’d be easy for Lopez to take credit for the hot offensive start, he gives all the praise to his hitters for the impressive results.

“This group has really bought in,” Lopez said “These guys are very open-minded, very coachable. We saw that our hitters weren’t in their legs a lot. They weren’t able to maintain their loads. We’ve done all our work in the cages, teaching approach, rather than teaching a swing.”

Sophomore first baseman CJ Kafyus paces the club with a .450 average, while freshman outfielder Lorenzo Carrier, who is hitting .438, leads the Hurricanes with two homers and nine RBI.

Newcomers Maxwell Romero Jr. and Jacob Burke have provided a spark, batting .357 and .353, respectively, while outfielder Mike Rosario is also hitting .300.

“Burke is a dynamic player. He plays with his hair on fire,” Lopez said. “Lorenzo Carrier just by walking out onto the field, that guy sticks out. When he hits the ball, it sounds a little different. These guys want to work. These guys have really motivated me.”

The hot-hitting Hurricanes and the Crimson, who will play for the first time in 719 days, open the series at 7 p.m. Friday night at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.