It wasn’t as fulfilling as a title-game win over Florida State would’ve been, but the Miami Hurricanes rebounded from a disappointing loss with a spirited rally against a program everybody loves to hate.
After being outlasted by North Carolina State in extra innings Friday night and being eliminated from the ACC Conference title game, Miami responded with a late-game comeback against Notre Dame on Saturday, scoring two in the bottom of the ninth for the, 6-5 win.
Much like Friday’s night’s game against the Wolfpack, the Canes certainly had their share of missed scoring opportunities, stranding a dozen runners—but the comeback win can allow that to be overlooked for the time being.
Where Miami didn’t find a way against North Carolina State, it did that thing good teams do trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth; it delivered in the end.
Enrique Sosa got the start for the Canes but only lasted 1.2 innings, giving up one hit, two runs, three walks and striking out one. Sosa gave up a walk and a single early in the second, followed by a Miami fielding error on a sacrifice bunt, scoring one. Moments later, a sacrifice fly gave the Irish a 2-0 lead.
Danny Garcia replaced Sosa, going three innings, giving up three hits and striking out three, while being charged with two runs. Derik Beauprez was next in line, going 1.2 innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.
The Irish’s lead was short-lived as Jacob Heyward drew a walk and Ricky Eusebio singled, setting the stage for sacrifice flies from Christopher Barr and Zack Collins, tying things up after three innings.
After a quiet fourth inning, both sides picked up a run in the fifth—Miami’s coming by way of a Collins’ solo shot to right field in the bottom of the frame. Notre Dame threatened in the seventh, by way of a Cavan Biggio double—with Biggio reaching third after a sacrifice bunt—but Miami’s Michael Mediavilla struck out the meat of Notre Dame’s order for the final two outs of the inning with no damage done.
Mediavilla lasted 2.1 innings, giving up one hit, one run and striking out a career-high-tying four batters.
A solo shot from Collins in the bottom of the seventh gave the Canes a, 4-3 lead and after a quiet eighth, both sides got busy in the games final inning.
Ryan Bull roped a game-tying RBI double, followed by a go-ahead single from Robert Youngdahl, chasing closer Bryan Garcia from the game. Cooper Hammond entered for the Canes, faced one batter and ended the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth; one of those endings the eventual winning team lives for.
Barr hit a solo shot—his first of the season—off of Notre Dame reliever Brad Bass, tying the game 5-5. From there, Collins drew a walk, David Thompson was hit by a pitch and Garrett Kennedy singled to load the bases, with Collins wisely held up at third.
Brandon Lopez entered—0-for-4 on the day—but delivered when it counted, by way of a one-out RBI single to the right-center gap, scoring the walk-off run.
Barr and Collins—who each went yard—were the only two Hurricanes with hits on Saturday, while a handful of usually reliable guys were a bit cold. Outside of Lopez’s game winner, Thompson and Eusebio were each 1-of-3, Kennedy and Willie Abreu were both 1-of-4 and George Iskenderian was held hitless in three attempts.
Still, Miami found a way and with the regionals around the corner—where the Hurricanes have been chosen as one of 16 host sites for the 26th time in program’s history—that’s the type of groove necessary for this point of the postseason.
A conference championship is always the goal, but look no further than last season to see how quickly long-term goals can derail, even when short-term ones are met.
The Hurricanes won the ACC regular season crown, going 40-15, but rolled into the conference tournament and suffered back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson, before toppling Duke in extra innings.
From there, a home regional and a lethargic 1-0 victory over Bethune-Cookman, before getting shut out by Texas Tech, 3-0. The Canes responded with a 10-0 shutout of the Wildcats, attempting to fight out of the losers’ bracket and knocked off the Red Raiders, 2-1 in ten innings later in the day—only to fall 4-0 in Monday’s elimination game.
Insult to injury came in the form of College Of Charleston upsetting Florida in the regionals, which would’ve set Miami up to host the Supers. Instead, the Cougars were shipped to Lubbock, where they fell to the Red Raiders in back-to-back, 1-0 ballgames.
While there are no do-overs in life, this Miami squad—mostly comprised of players who suffered big-time heartache last season—are back at home this coming weekend as a one-seed, roughly five wins from the ultimate goal of Omaha.
If that’s not motivation, vindication and an opportunity to fulfill some dreams, nothing is.
The Coral Gables Regional field—as well as the entire field of 64—will be announced at Monday at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN U’s “The Road To Omaha” baseball selection show.