Hurricanes Face Yellow Jackets In Pivotal Weekend Series

Miami and Georgia Tech go head-to-head in battle of ACC heavyweights at Mark Light Field

Walter Diaz looks to continue his 11-game hitting streak against Georgia Tech

Walter Diaz looks to continue his 11-game hitting streak against Georgia Tech

March 24, 2005

CORAL GABLES, Fla. ( - Streaks, coaching records, Atlantic Coast Conference supremacy and national rankings are all on the line when No. 7 Miami (21-5, 7-2 ACC) plays host to No. 8 Georgia Tech (19-3, 9-0 ACC) in a three-game series this weekend at Mark Light Field. The series begins with a 7 p.m. first pitch on Friday, March 25 and continues with 1 p.m. tilts on Saturday and Sunday.

Miami sits in third place in the ACC standings, two games behind the first-place Yellow Jackets.

Friday's series opener features two of the ACC's top pitchers, UM junior Cesar Carrillo (5-0, 1.10 ERA), and Georgia Tech junior Jason Neighborgall (5-0, 2.65 ERA). Carrillo's unblemished 17-0 career record and Miami's 26-0 mark when he takes the mound will be matched up against Tech's ACC-record 25-game conference winning streak.

Carrillo's task won't be easy. Neighborgall is considered one of the hardest throwers in college baseball, with a right arm capable of reaching the upper 90s on the radar gun. He has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his last three starts, all wins, and is supported by an offense considered by Morris to be the best the team has faced this season.

The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC with a .357 batting average and score more than 10 runs per game. Tech has eight players hitting above .325, and are led by sophomore Wes Hodges' hefty .451 average and seven home runs.

The Hurricanes have done more than hold their own at the plate. Led by sophomore Jon Jay (.475 avg., 33 RBIs) and junior third baseman Ryan Braun (.474, 9 HRs, 37 RBIs), Miami is batting .344 as a team and have scored 10 runs or more in six of its last eight games. Sophomore catcher Eddy Rodriguez has hit a home run in each of the last three games to anchor the lineup.

The undercard of this ACC heavyweight bout puts the spotlight on Morris and Yellow Jacket skipper Danny Hall.

Morris won a school-record 504 games in his 12 seasons with the Yellow Jackets. Hall followed Morris at Tech and has amassed 503 wins, with no. 504 escaping him in a 7-6, 11-inning loss to Auburn on Wednesday night. The series presents Hall with three opportunities to tie and/or pass his predecessor.

Miami sophomore Ricky Orta (5-1, 1.67 ERA) will start Saturday against Yellow Jacket lefty Lee Hyde (3-0, 5.52 ERA). Orta, who jumped into a starting role against Northeastern three weeks ago, has posted a 0.73 ERA in his four career starts. Hurricane senior Dan Touchet (2-2, 5.11 ERA) takes the mound against sophomore Blake Wood (4-0, 3.26 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.


Miami 11, Florida International 3 - March 23, 2005 - Brandon Camardese won his second consecutive start and Eddy Rodriguez hit his third home run in as many games to lead the Hurricanes at University Park. Camardese pitched 5.2 innings, gave up two runs, one walk and had one strikeout to move his record to 3-0. Ryan Braun and Paco Figueroa both went 3 for 5 and Rodriguez went 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs.
Last Week... Miami 13, Rutgers 2 - March 16, 2005 - Brandon Camardese pitched five scoreless innings and 11 Hurricanes collected hits in a 13-2 win against Rutgers at Mark Light Field. Sophomore first baseman Danny Valencia led the 17-hit Miami attack, going 4-5 with two doubles and three RBIs. Left fielder Jon Jay scored three runs and batted in another three, and senior Brendan Katin hit his third home run of the season.
Miami 11, Wake Forest 2 - March 18, 2005 - Paco Figueroa went 4 for 5 and Danny Figueroa and Danny Valencia both hit three-run home runs to lead the sixth-ranked Hurricanes 11-2 win against Wake Forest at Gene Hooks Stadium. Miami starter Cesar Carrillo moved his record to 5-0 this season, giving up six hits and striking out six in seven scoreless innings.
Wake Forest 13, Miami 6 - March 19, 2005 - The Hurricanes let a 5-3 lead in the fifth inning slip away en route to a 13-6 loss to Wake Forest. Ryan Braun led the Hurricanes at the plate, going 4 for 5 with a home run and one run batted in. Eddy Rodriguez and Walter Diaz both hit solo home runs for the Hurricanes in the loss. Dan Touchet (2-2) was charged with the loss and pitched four and two-thirds innings, gave up seven runs on eight hits, with two walks and a strikeout. Wake Forest starter Josh Ellis moved his record to 3-1 and gave up six runs on seven hits with two strikeouts in six innings.
Miami 12, Wake Forest 4 - March 20, 2005 - The Hurricanes used four home runs and another strong start from Ricky Orta to cruise to a 12-4 win against Wake Forest. Orta pitched a career-high seven innings and gave up six hits, one run, two walks and struck out six to move his record to 5-1 this season. The Hurricanes scored nine runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and totaled 16 hits in the game. Eddy Rodriguez had a career day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored. Ryan Braun, Danny Valencia and Walter Diaz all added home runs for the Hurricanes. Valencia finished the day 2 for 5 with four RBIs and a double in addition to his third home run of the season.

Cesar Carrillo and the Hurricanes just keep winning when he steps on the mound. The Hurricanes and Carrillo moved to 26-0 all-time when he pitches with an 11-2 win against Wake Forest last Friday, March 18. Carrillo's latest conquest was a seven-inning performance in which he gave up six hits, walked two and struck out six without allowing any runs to up his season record to 5-0 and his career record to 17-0. He leads all Hurricane starting pitchers with a 1.10 ERA, 49 strikeouts and has yielded 29 hits and six walks in 41.0 innings. The Hurricanes have outscored their opponents 66-19 when Carrillo pitches this season.

1-2 PUNCH IN THE 3-4
Sophomore left fielder Jon Jay and junior third baseman Ryan Braun have formed a formidable and interchangeable offensive charge hitting in the 3 and 4 spot for the Hurricanes this season. Jay has batted in the cleanup spot 19 times, while Braun has been no. 4 in the order five times. Jay leads the team in hitting (.475) and on-base percentage (.538), is tied for second with Braun and Brendan Katin with eight doubles, and is tied for third on the team with 33 RBIs. Braun is second on the team with a .474 average, eight doubles and leads the team with 40 runs, nine home runs, 37 RBIs and a .863 slugging percentage. In 21 of the team's 26 games, both Jay and Braun have had hits. Braun's 16-game hitting streak ended against Pittsburgh on March 8, while Jay's streak of 17 straight games was stopped last against Duke on March 13.

Sophomore catcher Eddy Rodriguez is better known for his skills behind the plate rather than his skills at the plate. He entered last week with a batting average of .176, five runs, six hits, a double and three RBIs in 34 at-bats. Heading into the Georgia Tech series, he has the first three home runs of his career and a stat line that was a world apart from the one he had prior to last Wednesday's game against Rutgers. Rodriguez has batted .529 with nine hits, two doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs and a 1.176 slugging pct. His hot hitting during the last five games has boosted his average to .294, 63 points higher than his average as a freshman. A comparison of Rodriguez's season prior to last week and the last five games is below:

Games 	Avg. 	GP-GS 	AB 	R	 H 	2B 	3B 	HR 	RBI 	TB 	Slg.
1-21 	.176 	15-12 	34 	5 	6 	1 	0 	0 	3 	7 	.206
	22-26 	.529 	5-5 	17 	8 	9 	2 	0 	3 	8 	20 	1.176
Totals 	.294 	20-17 	51 	13 	15 	3	 0 	3 	11 	27	.529

Junior Ryan Braun's two home runs against Wake Forest last weekend were the 35th and 36th of his career and moved him into good company in the Hurricanes' record books. His first home run on Saturday tied him with Frank Dominguez (1985-88) for 10th on the all-time list, while his home run on Sunday put him in a tie for ninth place with Jim Burt. In addition to his debut on UM's home run ledger, Braun is poised to join Hurricanes' top 10 RBI leaders. He currently has 157 in his career and needs just three more to tie Manny Crespo (1998-2000) for 10th place all-time. The following is a list of Miami's all-time home run leaders.

Mark	Player	Years
1.	62	Phil Lane	1982-84
2.	61	Pat Burrell	1996-98
3.	48	Kevin Brown	1998-2001
4.	42	Danny Matienzo	2000-02
5.	40	Lale Esquivel	1997, `99-2000
6.	39	Randy Guerra	1976-79
	39	Manny Crespo	1998-2000
8.	38	Charles Johnson	1990-92
9.	36	Ryan Braun	2003-pres.
	36	Jim Burt	2001-04

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ricky Orta was used exclusively as a reliever in his 18 career appearances until his first career start against Northeastern on March 2. While Orta's 3-1 career record as a reliever wasn't exactly shabby, it pales in comparison to what he has done as a starter in the last three weeks. Orta has improved his season record to 5-1 and his ERA to 1.67 with wins in the four starts he has made. As a starter, Orta has only given up two earned runs in 24.2 innings, good for an ERA of 0.73. He has only given up two extra-base hits in that time, a home run on the first pitch of the game against Northeastern and a double against Wake Forest in a 12-4 win last Sunday. The following is a comparison of Orta's career numbers as a reliever compared to his new starting role.

Ricky Orta as:	ERA 	W-L 	APP 	IP 	H 	R 	ER 	SO 	BB
Reliever 	5.65 	3-1 	18 	22.1 	25 	17 	14 	23 	16
Starter 	0.73 	4-0 	4 	24.2 	12 	2 	2 	19 	10
	3.06 	7-1 	22 	47.0 	37 	19 	16 	42 	26

It took a little while, but freshman second baseman Walter Diaz has adjusted to facing college pitchers and has put together a 11-game hitting streak. In that span he has hit .361 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, four RBIs and a .639 slugging percentage. He was hitting just .217 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs with a .326 slugging percentage in the 15 games prior to his recent stretch. The 11-game spurt has boosted his season average to .293 and has totaled three home runs and nine RBIs.

The Hurricanes knew they were getting a talented player when Danny Valencia transferred to Miami after a stellar freshman season at UNC-Greensboro. The sophomore first baseman hit .338 and led UNCG with eight home runs, 16 doubles and 117 total bases on his way to earning Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and second-team all-conference honors. But Valencia's smooth transition and performance thus far has been better than anticipated. Through 25 games, Valencia's numbers at the plate compare favorably to the impressive freshman season he had at Greensboro. He is batting .340 with a team-leading 10 doubles, three home runs and 33 RBIs. Valencia played a part in all three Miami runs in a 3-0 win against Pittsburgh on March 8 with two RBIs and a run scored. He had arguably the best game of his career against George Washington on Feb. 27, going 4-4 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. He had his second four-hit game of the season against Rutgers on March 18 and totaled 10 RBIs, two home runs and three doubles in four games last week. Below is a comparison of Valencia's freshman and sophomore seasons:

	Year	Avg.	GP-GS	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	TB	Slg.
	2004	.338 	55-54	222 	39 	75 	16 	1 	8 	36 	117 	.527
	2005	.340	26-26	103	21	35	10	1	3	33	56	.544
Redshirt freshman pitcher Scott Maine was touted as one of top prospects to come to Miami during head coach Jim Morris' tenure with the Hurricanes. Maine was named Baseball America's No. 7 overall prospect when he came out of William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens in 2003 and was a 15th-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners. Maine underwent Tommy John surgery in January 2004 and missed his entire freshman season. The road to recovery has been long and Maine finally made his debut against Rutgers on March 16, pitching 1.0 innings and giving up one hit and no runs. He made his second appearance in a 12-4 win against Wake Forest and yielded two unearned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Jon Jay's fifth at-bat against N.C. State on March 6 was the 300th of his career at Miami and qualified him for placement among the school's all-time hit leaders with 300-plus career at-bats. Jay debuted at No. 2 among Hurricane greats with a .403 average (121-of-300), second only to Pat Burrell (1996-98). Jay is now carrying a .400 career average heading into Wednesday's game. The following is a look at who Jay has etched his name next to in the Miami record books:

Miami All-Time Leading Batting Average (300+ AB)
1.	.442	Pat Burrell (1996-98)
2.	.400	Jon Jay (2004-current)
	.400	Aubrey Huff (1997-98)
4.	.396	Jason Michaels (1997-98)
5.	.373	Orlando Gonzalez (1973-74)

Danny and Paco Figueroa have played virutally their entire baseball careers together. They are identical twins and the untrained eye wouldn't be at fault if it confused the two. Danny hits in the leadoff spot and is followed Paco. While Paco is a second baseman, he has been playing in right field, next to Danny in center, and even filled in when Danny was hampered by an early-season injury. Their statistics are even similar: Danny is batting .351 with three home runs and 17 RBIs, while Paco is hitting .354 with one home run and 15 RBIs. At least one of the twins has had a hit in 20 of the 21 games both have played in. Thankfully, the rules of baseball require them to wear different numbers. Paco wears No. 16, Danny wears No. 2.

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