The state of Florida will be the site of an epic battle between teams ranked No. 1 and No.2 in the nation – but it won’t be a football showdown, but instead a baseball series between the rival Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators.
Coming off their shutout win Wednesday night against Kent State, the top ranked ‘Canes (4-0) will host the second ranked Gators (5-0) starting Friday night inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field – a Florida team that has dominated the series of late.
“They’ve had our number, certainly,” head coach Gino DiMare said after Miami’s recent 12-0 win over the Golden Flashes. “We felt like last year we went to Gainesville and won the first game, we’re up in the second game…and blew that lead and we’re up in the third game and blew that lead too.”
Miami will send Brian Van Belle to the mound for the series opener on Friday, hoping to build on his strong outing to start the season when the redshirt senior from Pembroke Pines went six innings and struck out a career high 10 batters in the Hurricanes’ win over Rutgers – the first of a three-game sweep.
“First game’s the most important game. I feel good about our team, I’m sure they feel good about their team,” DiMare said.
Both teams being plenty of offense into the weekend as Miami has put up 35 runs in their four games this season, including 25 in their last two outings. The Gators outscored their opponents 47-13 in their first four games but needed an extra innings single to win their last game on Wednesday against Jacksonville.
Florida has had the advantage in the series of late – winning eight of the last 10 meetings, including two of three last season – and won a national title in the 2017 season.
Miami, meanwhile, is ranked No. 1 for the first time in a poll since the 2016 season and is arguably playing their most meaningful games against a rival since narrowly beating Florida State to win the 1999 national title.
“You can tell they’re pumped. I think it’s going to be a great series,” DiMare said. “I think it’s going to be great for college baseball. I know we’re looking forward to it.”