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Quote:Hurricanes seek redemption against Noles

With UM's chances to reach the ACC final slim, its focus tonight could be on trying to pay back FSU for taking their last series.

On one hand, the door to Miami's chances of reaching the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament final already might be closed by the time Eric Erickson throws his first pitch against Florida State.

Even so, tonight's matchup might be just as valuable for the Hurricanes to achieve a little peace of mind.

Four weeks after losing two of three on their home field, including a ninth-inning meltdown in the opener, the Hurricanes are eager for one more shot at the Seminoles.

''We feel as if we should have taken that series, but that's just the way it happened,'' said Erickson, who earned UM's victory in the series and will be the starter tonight.

``Florida State's a tremendous team, so beating them would be big for us.''

It might be the next best thing for the Hurricanes (35-21), who saw their ACC title hopes all but squashed in Wednesday night's 13-inning loss to Clemson.

Under the tournament's new round-robin brackets, UM needs outside help for any chance of reaching Sunday's championship game.

Not only must the Hurricanes win their remaining games against FSU and Wake Forest, but Clemson must lose twice.

With Clemson-Wake Forest as tonight's opener, the Hurricanes will know their chances before they take the field.

''The only thing we can worry about is playing well,'' said UM coach Jim Morris, noting his team still has plenty at stake before departing Jacksonville.

Although UM is a safe bet to make the NCAA tournament, it remains hopeful that two victories might secure a host role for regionals. If nothing else, the Hurricanes' performance could tilt seedings one way or another.

''You win two games with the teams that are in [this field], you ought to be able to move up,'' Morris said.

The Seminoles (47-9) pulled a surprise Thursday by switching around their pitching rotation, sending Ryan Strauss against UM and holding back ace Bryan Henry for Saturday's game against Clemson.

Coach Mike Martin said he made the decision heading back to the hotel from FSU's opening victory over Wake Forest. Unless Clemson loses tonight, the FSU-Clemson winner will move into Sunday's finale.

''The emphasis is now on the Clemson game,'' Martin said. ``Had Miami won, the emphasis would have been on the Miami game.''

Martin admitted with the new format, he didn't grasp that line of thinking. But after one of his assistants pointed out the scenario, it was a pretty easy decision.

''It made all the sense in the world,'' Martin said, ``because this team didn't leave Tallahassee satisfied with anything less than playing for the conference championship.''

Strauss (9-2) was roughed up for four runs in just two-plus innings during the Miami series, but came away with a no-decision as FSU rallied for a 13-8 victory.

But the Hurricanes might have been no less confident against Henry (14-0), whose worst outing of the year came against UM. He gave up six runs in eight innings, only to get the victory after the Seminoles rallied.

UM took a 6-3 lead into the ninth but couldn't hold on, watching one run score by sloppy fielding before FSU's Tony Thomas and Mark Hallberg struck for back-to-back homers in a 7-6 decision.

FSU also won 13-8 the next day before Erickson's pitching in a 7-1 victory kept UM from being swept.

''I think we made too many mental mistakes against Florida State,'' said UM's Yonder Alonso, whose two homers in the series opener went unrewarded.

``We should have won the Florida State series. [The Seminoles] are a good ballclub and they come to play every day. But with our team, I still feel like we could have gotten it done.''
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