Game Day: UNC vs. Miami Series Preview

Tar Heels look to stay alive in ACC Coastal Division race

Looking to rebound from Tuesday’s loss to Coastal Carolina, North Carolina welcomes Miami to Boshamer Stadium this weekend for a three-game series that has serious implications in the ACC Coastal Division race.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the series, which begins with a doubleheader at 3 p.m. Friday and will conclude at noon Sunday.

Matchup: UNC (18-16, 12-12 ACC) vs. Miami (21-11, 13-10 ACC)

UNC ranks: No. -/-/- (Baseball America, D1Baseball, USA Today Coaches Poll)

Miami ranks: No. -/-/25 (Baseball America, D1Baseball, USA Today Coaches Poll)


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Pitching matchups

Game 1: RHP Austin Love (4-3, 4.55 ERA) vs. RHP Alejandro Rosario (4-2, 5.45 ERA)

Coming off a rough outing against Duke, Austin Love bounced back against Pittsburgh, allowing three runs on three hits in 6 1/3 innings. The redshirt sophomore issued a season-high four walks, but he also matched his career high in strikeouts (12). Friday will be Love’s fourth appearance against Miami. The previous three came in 2019, when he surrendered just one run and four hits in 11 1/3 innings of relief.

A headliner of the 2020 recruiting class that was widely regarded as the nation’s best, Alejandro Rosario was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 60 prospect in the 2020 MLB Draft. The righty has shown signs of his immense potential this season, recording four quality starts in seven tries. But he’s also experienced typical freshman struggles, allowing seven earned runs against Florida State and Pittsburgh.

Game 2: LHP Shawn Rapp (0-0, 3.92 ERA) vs. RHP Jordan Dubberly (1-0, 4.75 ERA)

Initially slated to start the second game of the Duke series before weather altered the schedule, Shawn Rapp will make his first career start against the Hurricanes. In 24 career appearances out of the bullpen, the redshirt freshman has registered a 3.21 ERA in 28 innings. He’s gone two or more innings six times this season, most recently at Pittsburgh last Saturday, when he tossed 54 pitches in a career-high 3 2/3 innings.

After missing last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Jordan Dubberly – who came to Miami via Georgia and St. Johns River State College in Florida – opened the year in the Hurricanes’ bullpen. He then moved into the rotation in late March, and has since posted a 4.15 ERA across four starts. He has yet pitch more than five innings.

Game 3: TBA vs. RHP Jake Garland (4-1, 4.29 ERA)

With Max Carlson expected to miss an extended amount of time, if not the rest of the season, due to elbow soreness and Connor Ollio and Will Sandy having struggled at Pittsburgh, the Tar Heels will likely give someone new the start Sunday. Potential options could include Gage Gillian (1-0, 1.27 ERA) and Chris Joyner (1-0, 0.75 ERA).

Like Dubberly, Jake Garland started the year as a reliever, then established himself as Miami’s midweek starter in March. His performance subsequently earned him a spot in the weekend rotation, and through two ACC starts against Pittsburgh and Clemson, he’s allowed four earned runs in 9 2/3 innings.

Scouting the Hurricanes

Picked as the favorite to win the Coastal Division in the ACC preseason coaches poll, Miami entered the season with what was expected to be one of the country's most potent lineups. That wasn’t the case in the Hurricanes’ first 16 games, during which they hit .238 with 15 home runs while averaging six runs. But over their last 16 games, they’ve found their groove, batting .298 with 27 homers while averaging 7.4 runs.

Miami’s offensive uptick has coincided with the emergence of Alex Toral, who Baseball America lists as the No. 169 prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft. After struggling early in the season, the first baseman is slashing .339/.431/.643 with five home runs and 18 RBIs over the last 16 games. He and catcher Adrian Del Castillo (.303/.408/.462) – who is No. 5 in Baseball America’s draft rankings – anchor the lineup. The biggest revelation, however, has been freshman third baseman Yohandy Morales, the No. 77 prospect in the 2020 MLB Draft, according to Baseball America. He leads the team in home runs (9) and RBIs (31) while slashing .290/.326/.588.

The Hurricanes lack experience on the mound, specifically in their starting rotation. But the staff has been among the best in the country in limiting mistakes, ranking 10th nationally in walks allowed per nine innings (2.74), 14th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.33) and 25th in WHIP (1.25). Redshirt freshman closer Carson Palmquist (1-0, 1.40 ERA) has been lights out, striking out 45 batters and walking just five on his way to nine saves, tied for the third most in the country.

Numbers to know

  • Miami leads the all-time series with UNC, 40-34-1. The Tar Heels are 18-12-1 in games played in Chapel Hill.

  • After not homering in 158 at-bats over his first two seasons, redshirt sophomore Caleb Roberts has hit a team-best nine homers in 121 at-bats this season while slashing .306/.449/.595. Those are the most home runs by a Tar Heel through 34 games since Dustin Ackley and Levi Michael each hit 10 in 2009.

  • UNC is tied for first in the ACC and 17th nationally with 46 home runs. Those are the most by a Tar Heel team through 34 games since the 2002 squad hit 59.

  • Starting in left field in place of Angel Zarate – who is expected to return this weekend after missing seven straight games due to COVID-19 protocols – sixth-year senior Dallas Tessar has gone 10-for-26 with two home runs, three doubles, three walks, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored. He’s currently riding a career-best eight-game hitting streak.

  • Redshirt sophomore Danny Serretti is 11-for-29 with eight doubles and a homer over the last seven games. He’s logged three three-hit efforts in that span.

  • Junior college transfer Justice Thompson has stolen 13 bases on 14 attempts.

  • Over the last 17 games, UNC’s bullpen has registered a 3.06 ERA in 103 innings. 

  • Gillian has recorded a 1.27 ERA and a .61 WHIP in 21 1/3 innings. He’s struck out 21 batters while walking three.

  • After missing the previous six games due to COVID-19 protocols, redshirt junior Caden O’Brien returned to the mound Tuesday against Coastal Carolina and retired all seven batters he faced over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. The lefty boasts a 2.42 ERA and a .85 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings.

  • Freshman catcher Tomas Frick has thrown out 12 of 24 potential basestealers (50 percent). The only ACC catcher with a higher percentage is Louisville’s Henry Davis, who has thrown out 11 of 21 potential basestealers (52.4).