Come Monday, in a do-or-die affair, the host team reminded the nation why they’re the fifth-seed overall; demolishing the Ivy Leaguers, 21-3 and advancing to the Super Regionals where Miami will host fourth-seeded VCU, winner of the Dallas Regional.
Before shifting the focus to next weekend and that #RoadToOmaha that 64 teams were hash-tagging, but only 16 will continue using this next week, Miami’s dominating performance over Columbia deserves some serious praise.
Hurricane faithful were shell-shocked after a a missed opportunity on Sunday; up 2-0 in the Coral Gables Regional and with an opportunity to lay a beating on a Columbia team that was gearing up for their second game of the day and third in a 24-hour span.
Instead, the Lions came to play while the Canes chased pitches, missed opportunities, lacked focus and were shutout for the first time all season, suffering an embarrassing home loss—their first since falling to Florida State mid-April.
Miami was the team to beat on Monday night—zero doubt there—but the dominating performance the Hurricanes put on was just what this program needed after a frustrating loss, coupled with the Super Regionals on deck.
One of the most-potent offenses in the nation was stifled by a freshman pitcher on Sunday night, but got it’s revenge in epic fashion on Monday; starting fast, getting after it and never letting up.
Miami batted around the order in the first, scoring four and setting the tone. Ricky Eusebio was hit by a pitch, Christopher Barr laid down a sacrifice bunt and George Iskenderian doubled down the left field line, scoring Eusebio—head coach Jim Morris setting a tone early as his team was riding a funky streak; ten innings of scoreless baseball.
While the small-ball mindset made sense early, the Canes didn’t have to stick with it long, piling on the runs all night.
David Thompson was hit by a pitch and a batter later, Garrett Kennedy roped a double, scoring both Iskenderian and Thompson. Brandon Lopez singled to left in the seven spot, plating Kennedy and Willie Abreu singled to right, moving Lopez to second.
Jacob Heyward went down swinging, retiring the side, but the damage was done. The Hurricanes batted around the order, scored four runs and let Columbia know early what kind of night it was going to be.
A three-up, three-down inning for the Lions was followed by a Thompson two-out single up the middle in the top of the second, bringing home Iskenderian and advancing the Canes’ lead to 5-0. Another one-run inning followed in the third, before things went next-level in the fourth.
Iskenderian worked the count to 3-2 before drawing a walk, as did Collins before singling to center field. Thompson drew a strike-less walk, while Iskenderian scored on a wild ball-four pitch.
A sacrifice bunt from Kennedy moved Thompson to second and Collins to third, setting the stage for a Lopez single that brought Collins home. A batter later, Abreu roped the first triple of the Coral Gables Regional, clearing the bases and giving Miami a 9-0 lead with one out.
Heyward singled to center—bringing home Abreu—and advances to second on a wild pitch. Eusebio then drew a walk, with Miami pulling a double steal, sending the leadoff batter to second and Heyward to third.
Barr eventually brought Heyward home, Collins doubled to right, bringing in Eusebio and Iskenderian and Thompson eventually popped out to end the inning. Still, the damage was done.
Miami sent a dozen batters to the plate, scored eight, took a commanding 14-0 lead and for all intents and purposes, this one was in the books before the sun even set in South Florida.
Two more in the fifth, four in the sixth and one in the ninth. Abreu was responsible for the sixth-inning damage; a convincing three-run shot to right—the Hurricanes’ first home run of the regionals, with Carl Chester getting the second in the ninth by way of a solo shot to open the inning.
Danny Garcia lasted 6.0 innings for Miami, striking out seven, allowing seven hits and giving up three runs—all in the sixth, before he was pulled in favor of Sam Abrams, who went one inning and gave up a lone hit.
Ryan Otero gave the Canes one inning, as well before yielding to closer Bryan Garcia, who allowed one hit in the ninth, but struck out two to end the game.
Columbia had nine hits on the night to Miami’s 20, while nine different Hurricanes drove in runs. Abreu led with five, followed by Barr with three. Lopez, Kennedy, Thompson and Collins had two apiece, while Iskenderian and Heyward each had one.
While the gaudy stats and football-like score will steal headlines, the real story was the night and day turnaround made by this Hurricanes team less than 24 hours after ultimate disappointment.
To go from winning 16-of-18, taking the Coastal Division regular season crown, making a run in a deep conference tourney, up 2-0 in a home regional, feeling things are locked up, turning the focus towards hosting a Super next weekend—to facing a one-game season against an upset-minded bunch that were 6-0 in elimination games?
S–t got real super-fast for Miami and without the proper motivation on Monday night, the past five months could’ve gone up in flame—with some incredible kids playing their last-ever game in a Hurricanes uniform.
Instead, this one was all but over halfway through the first inning and everything from there was simply a healthy piling on.
As mentioned in last night’s post-game piece, “The Canes need to find that balance between all business or too loose, frustration and determination or belief versus overconfidence. Tap into that place one more time this long weekend and Miami will deliver as it has so many time this season.”
UM did all that and then some on Monday night. As dominating a performance as anyone could’ve asked for and the type of game that erases any doubt; proving that Sunday night was a fluke and that a 47-15 record is more the norm.
Next up; a weekend showdown against a Cinderella-like Virginia Commonwealth squad that will come to play. The Rams dominated the Dallas Regional, knocking off host Dallas Baptist, 7-2 in the opener and second-seeded Oregon State, 5-1 in the winner’s bracket, before falling to the Patriots, 2-1 on Sunday night, but responding with a 3-1 extra innings win over the top-seeded squad on Monday afternoon.