Hell, things looked good with one out in the bottom of the ninth, sitting on a 10-5 lead against Boston College.
As witnessed several times this year, complacency set it and pitching failed. In just over an inning’s worth of work, Daniel Miranda surrendered four hits, was charged with five runs and struck out two.
Miami entered the top of the ninth with the game tied 5-5, having scored the tying run with two outs in the eighth. Stephen Perez singled to right and drove in Zeke DeVoss.
In what should’ve been the final inning, Scott Lawson started things off with a single down the right field line. A batter later, Yasmani Grandal singled to center, with Lawson advancing to third. Harold Martinez singled up the middle, driving in Lawson and moving Grandal to second. A sacrifice bunt moved Martinez, Nathan Melendres walked and DeVoss sent a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall for a grand slam, pushing the Canes’ lead to 10-5.
After a quick strikeout in the bottom of the ninth, Miranda unraveled on the mound. Three straight singles, a fielder’s choice, a walk and a three-run shot tied the game 10-10 and in extra innings, Miami could do nothing. Three up, three down in the 10th and 11th and in the 12th, a play at the plate with Perez tagged out. In the bottom of the inning, a walk and home run on on the watch of Travis Miller. Game over, 12-10.
Florida State pulled off the upset against Virginia, setting the stage for Miami to reach the ACC title game if they could knock off the Cavs, but again the Canes faltered.
Miami led 6-5 after three, fueled by a four-run third inning but did little from that point on.
Virginia flexed its muscle in the bottom of the sixth, picking up four runs on three hits and another Miami fielding error. A three-run shot surrendered by Sam Robinson had the Canes down 9-7 before the Cavs tacked on three more in the bottom of the seventh, this time Taylor Wulf the goat, thanks to a few Miami fielding errors that kept the inning alive.
The Canes got a ninth inning solo shot from Michael Broad, but couldn’t get any closer and fell 12-8 – not only opening the door for Florida State to reach the title game, but eventually paving the way for the Noles to take home the ACC crown.
In the grand scheme of things, Miami lost a shot at hosting a Super Regional – which most likely only would’ve happened had the Canes won the ACC. UM will still host a regional – something FSU won’t even do after winning the conference crown.
None of this takes Miami out of the running for Omaha… but you can’t like what you’ve seen as this season came to a close. The Canes went 4-6 down the stretch, losing the final two series to Georgia Tech and Virginia. Miami pitching gave up 24 run in back-to-back losses at the ACC tourney and the premise of going on the road for a Super Regional isn’t in the Canes’ best interest as UM pitchers have fared better at home this season.
The Canes will host a regional for the 23rd time in school history, is one of only three ACC teams hosting and a 40-17 record is nothing to sneeze at – but the way this team has played as of late doesn’t have anyone thinking National Championship.
Should Eric Erickson return from injury, it will better Miami’s chances – but the unclutch play, fielding errors and bats going cold when it’s time to get hot; not exactly the recipe for post-season success.
Miami’s regional foes will be announced shortly. Tune in this weekend for all the action out of Coral Gables.
(Edit: Miami is the top seed, Texas A&M is second, crosstown rival Florida International is the three seed and Dartmouth is fourth.)