Illinois has its 26-game winning streak, but no team in college baseball is feared more than Miami right now.
The Hurricanes have outscored opponents 170-21 while winning their last 12 games. OK, three of those victories were by a combined 58-2 over a New York Institute of Technology club that has lost 76 of 94 games the past two seasons. But this past weekend Miami hammered Georgia Tech by a combined 42-5.
If the Yellow Jackets beat Virginia in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Tuesday, their reward will be a rematch with the Hurricanes on Wednesday.
"We're playing good late, and that's when you want to get hot," Miami coach Jim Morris said Monday. "Our hitting has gotten a lot of publicity, but our pitching has been very good and our defense has done good late, too. We're going into the league (tournament) right where you want to be."
The Hurricanes (42-13, 22-8 ACC), No. 2 in the RPI behind Dallas Baptist, have put themselves in position to host an NCAA tournament regional and earn one of the eight national seeds.
Their average of 8.6 runs is tied with Morehead State for first nationally, and their .319 batting average and 56 home runs lead the ACC. David Thompson is first nationally with 78 RBIs, and he's hit nine homers the last 12 games to tie Eastern Kentucky's Kyle Nowlin for the national lead with 19. George Iskenderian is batting .391 to lead the ACC.
No. 1 starter Thomas Woodrey (6-2, 2.69 ERA) threw a one-hit shutout Thursday in his first complete game of the season, and No. 2 starter Andrew Suarez (7-1, 2.95) allowed no earned runs in six innings Friday. Closer Bryan Garcia has nine saves to lead a bullpen that during the 12-game win streak has an 0.48 ERA, 38 strikeouts and eight walks.
But the Canes' calling card is offense. Miami is batting .390 and averaging 14.1 runs the last dozen games.
"I definitely wouldn't want to be the other team's pitchers right now," said Thompson, who homered three times and drove in nine runs in Friday's 22-1 win. "You can't walk anybody because then you're just going to have to face another great hitter."
A look around the country:
POLL WATCH: SEC regular-season champion LSU (46-9, 21-8 SEC) remained the consensus No. 1 team in the major polls. The Tigers, who took two of three games at South Carolina, have won nine of their last 11. They won the SEC title for the 16th time and third time in coach Paul Mainieri's nine seasons.
WHO'S IN, SO FAR: Five teams have locked up automatic bids for the NCAA tournament. Florida A&M (23-23) will be in a regional for the first time after winning the MEAC championship. Other qualifiers are Columbia (Ivy), Texas Southern (SWAC), Lehigh (Patriot) and UCLA (Pac-12). The tournament bracket will be announced next Monday.
ABOUT THOSE ILLINI: Illinois' 26-game win streak is the longest of the season in Division I, tied for the Big Ten record owned by Nebraska (1983) and eight shy of the NCAA record shared by Texas (1977) and Florida Atlantic (1999). The Illini (45-6-1) have the nation's top winning percentage (.875) and fewest losses.
TITAN HIGHS AND LOWS: Cal State Fullerton limited Hawaii to four runs in 27 innings on a weekend that started with Thomas Eshelman allowing five hits, walking none and striking out 12 in his fourth complete game and second shutout. Eshelman has an amazing 107 strikeouts against just six walks. The Titans traveled to Hawaii after they found out Saturday starter Justin Garza would be out for the season and need Tommy John surgery. The junior is 21-7 with a 2.64 ERA in his career.
COMMODORES COMEDOWN: Defending national champion Vanderbilt (39-17, 20-10) won its final regular-season series against Alabama to clinch the SEC East but lost the last game 1-0. It marked the first time the Commodores have been shut out since getting blanked 4-0 by Texas at last year's College World Series.
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