For any team to make the NCAA Regionals for 44 straight years, as the Miami Hurricanes have done, you do so by having a revolving door of talent walking in and out of Coral Gables.
So even though the Hurricanes lost some serious talent from a year ago, expectations were still high going into the 2017 season. Gone is first round pick, Zack Collins, to go along with Willie Abreu and Jacob Heyward but they also return one of the best top-of-the-order hitters in Carl Chester.
Along with Chester, the Hurricanes returned enough on offense to expect to continue their success, and shoot for a third straight College World Series appearance.
Miami Hurricanes’ Offense Continue To Sputter
Ten games have gone, and after dropping two-of-three against Dartmouth, Miami is going to have to regroup and look for solutions, all on the offensive end.
Just looking back at the last seven games played, not counting the opening weekend series win against Rutgers, Miami has been shut out four times. In both losses to Dartmouth, they failed to score a run, and their lone victory was by ways of a walk-off balk.
There is little wondering as to why they have lost five of the last seven games.
Entering the season with a lot of preseason hype, Chester has been the best bat the Hurricanes have had to offer, and even he has struggled to get things going.
Through ten games, the junior leads Miami with a .250 average, to go along with a .658 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage. He has just two extra-base hits on the season.
Chester was supposed to have the support of several veterans, including fifth-year seniors Christopher Barr and Edgar Michelangeli, as well as Johnny Ruiz.
The three have combined for ten hits total, as well as a .117 batting average. As a team in general, the Hurricanes have posted a batting line of .184/.280/.256.
In their weekend series against the Florida Gators, Miami only managed two runs and 12 hits as a team, losing all three games in the process. Against Dartmouth, they did a little better, registering 18 hits total, but just scored a lone run more than they did against Florida.
Sitting with a record of 4-6, things don’t get easier for the Hurricanes this week as they play two midweek games against Florida International before starting up conference play with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coming into town.
Losing nearly half your lineup to the draft, it usually leads teams through a brief retooling stage but 44 straight trips to the postseason says otherwise for the Hurricanes. There is still plenty of time to turn things around, but it is going to be a steep hill to climb if the offensive struggles continue.
Lepore Continues Strong Hurricane Career
No other player on the Hurricanes’ roster has felt the recent squeeze of offensive production more than Jesse Lepore. Tabbed as the Friday night starter, Lepore entered his junior season yet to register a loss as a member of the Hurricanes.
After pitching out of the bullpen as a freshman, Lepore slid into the rotation as a sophomore and posted a perfect 9-0 record. Winning his first game of the season this time around, Lepore has since dropped his next two starts, both to Florida and Dartmouth.
In both of those contest, the Hurricanes failed to muster up any offense at all and lost both games by the score of 1-0. He has totaled 14 innings and only two earned runs in those starts.
All total, Lepore has allowed just two runs in 20 innings pitched (0.90 ERA) but currently sports a losing record of 1-2. After making it 25 appearances without losing a game, Lepore has now lost his last two, despite only allowing two runs.
Looking to start a new unbeaten streak, Lepore will have to tame a Yellow Jackets offense that has registered ten or more runs in seven of their nine victories. Limiting runs is even more critical, considering the Hurricanes inability to create them on their own.