Miami has chance to change its luck in Lincoln

Updated: June 6, 2006, 11:58 AM ET
By Will Kimmey | Baseball America

Lincoln Regional
1. Nebraska (42-15) -- 10th appearance, at-large, Big 12, No. 6 national seed
2. Miami (36-21) -- 35th appearance, at-large, Atlantic Coast
3. San Francisco (38-21) -- First appearance, at-large, tied for West Coast regular season
4. Manhattan (32-21) -- Second appearance, automatic, won MAAC tournament

Lincoln Regional schedule
At Hawks Field at Haymarket Park
Lincoln, Neb.
Friday, June 2
Game 1 -- Miami 11, San Francisco 2
Game 2 -- Manhattan 4, Nebraska 1
Saturday, June 3
Game 3 -- San Francisco 5, Nebraska 1
Game 4 -- Miami 8, Manhattan 2
Sunday, June 4
Game 5 -- Manhattan 6, San Francisco 4
Game 6 -- Miami 10, Manhattan 4
Miami (39-21) advances to the super regional round.

Lincoln Regional notes
Nebraska steamrolled to a 36-6 start before dropping its last three conference series to fall from first to fourth place in the Big 12. The Cornhuskers put things back together in the conference tournament, beating Texas for the third time in four tries before falling to upstart Kansas in the finale. The Huskers offer a bit of everything, ranking among the top 20 nationally in ERA (3.43), slugging (.486) and fielding (.974). Unlike most teams in the field, Nebraska features four quality starters in Joba Chamberlain, Tony Watson, Johnny Dorn and Charlie Shirek. The depth of arms continues into the bullpen, headed by closer Brett Jensen's pinpoint control and 13 saves. Shortstop Ryan Wehrle (.367, 21 doubles) emerged as Nebraska's best hitter, while Luke Gorsett and Brandon Buckman combined for 29 home runs, though each slowed their pace as the season wore on. The Huskers seek their fourth trip to Omaha since 2001.

Lincoln can't bring great memories to Miami, which got eliminated from last year's tournament in a super regional at Hawks Field. This is a much younger Hurricanes team that had to replace its entire rotation but did return closer Chris Perez, who ranked third in the ACC with a 1.77 ERA while saving 12 games. Coach Jim Morris showed no fear in turning over close games to the right-hander, who made appearances as early as the seventh inning if necessary. Miami hitters don't dot the ACC leader boards, though steady junior center fielder Jon Jay makes an appearance with his 26 steals. He also led the team with 66 runs and a .351 average. Watch freshman second baseman Jemile Weeks; Rickie's younger brother is a future star who led the team with 73 hits and eight triples.

Everything came up Dons in 2006 as San Francisco treated itself to the best year in school history. It set a record for wins, captured its first WCC regular-season crown, received its first ranking in the Baseball America Top 25 and, most important, earned its first NCAA bid. San Francisco won nine of its last 10 series until dropping the WCC championship series against Pepperdine. Junior outfielder/left-hander Scott Cousins (.352 with 21 steals; 4-2, 3.40) became the first Don to earn WCC player of the year honors since Tagg Bozied in 1999. Senior outfielder Stefan Gartrell's 62 RBI led the league, and were the most since Bozied's days as a Don. Bozied never was named the WCC pitcher of the year (neither was former Don Jesse Foppert); Patrick McGuigan was after winning 12 games and saving four more while shifting between the bullpen and rotation.

Raise your hand if you remember Manhattan's 1957 NCAA appearance. The Jaspers set a school record for wins by coming out on the good end of nine of their last 10 games. Senior left-hander Chris Cody won the MAAC pitching triple crown with an 11-2 record and 1.45 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 99 innings. He threw a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts against Tulane in Manhattan's season opener. Sophomore first baseman Matt Rizzotti (.349-8-41, .479 OBP) and senior DH John Fitzpatrick (.324-16-64) pack a strong punch in the middle of the order.

Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.

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