There was hope that Miami was starting to turn a corner weeks back. A home-stand against Virginia and hard-fought sweep of the Cavaliers showed potential as the Canes were delivering in all aspects of their game.

For a young team in need of a spark, it wasn’t completely off-base to wonder if Miami could find a way to build off it’s newfound, short-lived success. Days later the Canes were routed by the Marlins in an exhibition, but that was of little concern in comparison to two challenges that were more immediate; a road game at Florida Gulf Coast, followed by a three-game road stint in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.

That offense that showed up in an 8-1 series-sweeping win over Virginia; long gone three days later in shutout at FGCU. Against the Yellow Jackets, Miami scored six runs all weekend to Georgia Tech’s 23—including Saturday’s 13-4 series-clinching smackdown.

Back home against Florida Atlantic the following Wednesday; same shoddy result as the Canes fell, 7-4—Miami with 13 hits to FAU’s 12, UM stranding nine runners and committing three errors.

Last weekend, another ACC home showdown with North Carolina trekking south and by Saturday night, Miami’s losing streak reached seven games—on the brink of a program’s worst eight-game skid, had it not been for a rain-shortened win as the Canes led in the fifth, avoiding another sweep.

Instead, UM merely tied its worst streak; losing seven-in-a-row twice in the 1960′s, two decades before Hurricanes baseball became synonymous with Omaha and national championship.

Sunday’s victory pushed Miami over .500 on the season—at home. The Canes are still 13-18 overall and a pathetic 2-8 on the road, thus far—an mid-week win at Central Florida mid-March, followed buy a Sunday win at Duke after dropping the first two games.

That Sunday win over North Carolina; the result of a six-run fifth inning before the game was called in the sixth. Miami tried 5-1 entering the bottom half of the frame and bats (finally) came alive, capitalize on back-to-back walks and a pitching change.

A single, triple, double, walk and double opened the floodgates for the Hurricanes, but the game was over before finding out if Miami would’ve piled more on, simply hung on, or let another moment slip away.

Any general jubilation regarding a win and losing streak ending was tempered by what took place the two evenings prior; a 9-6 loss on Saturday night, after falling 8-4 in 12 innings on Friday.

Knotted up 3-3, the Tar Heels picked up one in the top of the eleventh and the Hurricanes answered—but wound up leaving Gil Rivera stranded on second, as Raymond Gil struck out and Willy Escala fouled out, after Freddy Zamora was walked to set up a force-out. In the top of the twelfth, the Tar Heels blew the game open with a four run inning and the Canes responded with a three-up, three-down effort—a ground-out and two strikeouts.

Saturday’s outing proved equally as frustrating, for different reasons. Up 3-1 after the first, the Tar Heels scored five in the third and fourth. Miami pulled to within a run after a single and walk sparked a rally and pitching change.

Gil promptly grounded out, but advanced Hunter Tackett to second and Michael Burns to third—where a fielder’s choice put Michael Amditis on first without any collateral damage, thanks to an error that scored Burns and moved Tackett to third.

Zamora walked and an Escala ground out scored Tackett, moving the runners to second and third—but Issac Quinones went down on strikes and the Canes could do no more.

North Carolina added three over the sixth and seventh, while another Miami rally stalled in the bottom of the seventh as bats went cold after Zamora opened the bottom half of the inning with a home run ti left field. Escala and Quinones both struck out looking, while Gonzalez went down swinging—unable to make anything out of Rivera’s single to center.

Three-up, three-down for the Canes in the bottom of the eighth—while two Miami batters went down with bats on their shoulders, before a fly-out ended the game.

While the problem isn’t hard to diagnose; young team that can’t get the hits when needed, falls apart on defense and sees its pitching unravel in key moments. Yes, injures have played their part in Miami’s downfall—putting added pressure on even younger players and non-starters to step up—but the overall inconsistency and glaring weaknesses are hard to stomach; especially with Hurricanes’ veteran coaching staff who isn’t immune to working with young talent over the years.

In years passed, one would expect a players-only team meeting and hard reset to right right the ship—or to at least attempt to.

Does Miami have a vocal leader? Is anyone available to step up and share the rich history of this program with its newcomers? One would think seeing a 44-year post-season stream broken last year due to sub-par play would be enough to motivate.

Look at the image accompanying this story; do these guys not see the listed stats above the dugout?National Championships … College World Series appearances … NCAA record post-season appearances … 49 All-Americans and 53 guys reaching the major leagues.

That history should remind guys of who they’re working to be, as well as the legacy they chose to be a part of. Run towards it, not from it.

Forget “Omaha” as a rallying cry; these Canes are currently fighting to hit the road for a Regional. Miami went 31-27 last year—16-13 in the ACC—closing the regular season with a four-game win-streak and taking two games at the conference tournament, yet still didn’t reach the post-season.

Based on last year’s numbers, the Canes need to at least go 17-6 down the stretch—with a decent-enough showing at the ACC Tournament—to get a post-season berth. Even the Jim Morris swan song and last hurrah won’t get this team a courtesy invite. Better play—and fast—is a must.

Two things Miami must do immediately; show up and play for mid-week games that are killing this team so far. The Canes are 1-6 on the season against the likes of Florida Atlantic (three losses), Florida International, Florida Gulf Coast and Missouri. The lone win; a 4-3 close-call at Central Florida—the Knights trekking south to The Light this Wednesday night for a rematch.

FGCU heads to Coral Gables twice more, while Florida International and Stetson will also trek south. Winnable games that can’t be thrown away.

The Canes must also capitalize on any home field advantage left this season; especially with Pittsburgh, Bethune-Cookman and Boston College all coming to town. Hardly juggernauts, Miami also needs to make the most of a road trip to Virginia Tech—as the Hokies aren’t at the level of Clemson or Florida State; the Canes’ other remaining road shows.

Cliche as it may sound, at some point one would expect pride to kick in. Out-talenting better squads is a different beast, but the mental errors, a lack of focus and overall breakdowns have the potential to get corrected if someone is willing to lead the charge and the rest are committed to listening and responding.

First challenge comes tomorrow night against UCF. Protect home and then shift all focus this weekend at Clemson.

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