The Miami Hurricanes are the top seed in the Coral Gables Regional of the NCAA tournament. The biggest concern this weekend is a real hurricane.
A tropical disturbance that could become the first named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to move through South Florida starting Friday. It’s not expected to be a strong tropical storm or hurricane, but it could turn the NCAA baseball region on the University of Miami campus into a meltdown.
Friday’s games were brought forward several hours in anticipation of bad weather later in the day, and coaches and players from all four teams – Ole Miss, Arizona, Canisius and Miami – were preparing for a long weekend weather delays.
“It’s really about staying ready,” Ole Miss first baseman Tim Elko said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. “You don’t know if it’s going to rain before the game or during the game, so you just have to be ready when the whistle blows.
Friday’s regional opener between Canisius (29-23) and No. 6 national seed Miami (39-18) has been moved two hours to 9 a.m. Ole Miss (32-22) and Arizona (37-23 ) will begin 55 minutes after the completion of this game. If time remains absent and the first game is going at a reasonable pace, it should be around 1 p.m., five hours earlier than the originally scheduled time.
Both first-round matches will air on ESPN+. A revised schedule and TV assignments for the remainder of this weekend’s games were not immediately announced.
From a strategic standpoint, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said the hardest thing to deal with would be juggling the pitching staff. Using a starting pitcher who may not be able to return after an early weather delay could be a big decision for all four coaches.
“You certainly hope that once you start the game there’s a big enough window that you don’t burn out a starter,” Bianco said.
Bianco noted that the Rebels have had some experience with situations like this and turned them to their advantage.
Last week, they waited six overtime hours to start their game against Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference tournament. The first pitch was thrown at 10 p.m. and the game ended just before 1 a.m.
On May 13, a Friday Night road game against LSU was suspended in the third inning. Starting pitcher Dylan DeLucia threw just 38 pitches before action was halted and was able to return for another four innings when play resumed Saturday.
DeLucia shut down LSU when the game resumed to lead the Rebels to a 5-3 win.
“We had this situation in Baton Rouge where (DeLucia) threw and rebounded the next day. We will have to see what the situation is this time,” Bianco said.
DeLucia’s performance against LSU could have been the difference between Ole Miss and the NCAA Tournament champ or not. The victory was part of a series sweep and six-game winning streak that saw the Rebels pass North Carolina State for the final overall offer in the field of 64.
The reward was a trip to Miami and a chance to avenge a bitter defeat. Arizona, their first-round opponent, beat the Rebels in three games in a regional super series last season.
The Rebels, however, said playing a quality Arizona team, not revenge, was their priority.
“It was not an important point for us,” Elko said. “We were just excited to play.”
CORAL GABLES REGIONAL
9 a.m. – Miami vs. Canisius
1:00 p.m. – Ole Miss vs. Arizona (Radio: 107.7 FM; TV TBD)
Note: All games will be streamed on ESPN+