Head Coach Jim Morris entered the weekend series against Clemson two wins away from 1,000 in his career at Miami. Of course the Hurricanes won on Friday and Saturday night for “3,” but not even the legendary coach could’ve expected both would come on walk-off hits. A night after Willie Abreu won the game in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run home run, Edgar Michelangeli delivered the No. 4 Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over No. 17 Clemson with an RBI-single to right field in the bottom of the 11th inning at Mark Light Field.
“Crazy way to get your 1,000th win,” an emotional Morris said. “In the competition of the game, I had no thoughts about the 1,000th until we won.”
Morris also won his 1,500th game as a coach from a walk-off on Abreu’s grand slam in the bottom of the ninth against Louisville last Friday night. Morris never considered reaching this milestone when he came to Miami before the start of the 1994 season.
“No, I really didn’t [think this would happen]. It was the furthest thing from my mind,” Morris said while fighting off tears. “I mean I’m following, to me, the most influential coach in the history of college baseball and that’s Coach [Ron] Fraser. I wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t for him.”
Junior second baseman Johnny Ruiz led off the bottom of the 11th with a walk and advanced to second on a sac-bunt by senior shortstop Brandon Lopez. After Abreu was intentionally walked, Michelangeli came up and drilled a liner to right that gave Ruiz just enough time to beat the throw by Clemson right fielder Seth Beer.
“I was trying to get a ball over the plate and try to hit it hard somewhere. Try to make things happen,” said Michelangeli, who went 4-for-6 from the plate. “It happened to go between first and second and we happened to win.”
Clemson (17-5, 5-3) again opened the scoring with a home run in the top of the first. One night after catcher Chris Okey hit a solo shot in the first inning, Beer hit his ACC-leading 10th home run to put the Tigers up 2-0 early.
While the Tigers used the long ball to score, Miami got its runs with classic small ball. The Canes scored one run in each of the first four innings, capitalizing on Clemson errors, drawing walks and laying down sacrifice bunts.
Junior catcher Zack Collins brought home sophomore centerfielder Carl Chester with an RBI-single for Miami’s first run. Freshman designated hitter Romy Gonzalez scored Michelangeli on a soft grounder in the second. Lopez plated Ruiz with a double down the left field line in the third, and Michelangeli crossed home in the fourth when third baseman Glenn Batson mishandled a ground ball.
Clemson tied the game in the sixth with – what else – a two-run blast over the left field fence by first baseman Chris Williams. The Canes got a great opportunity to score multiple runs in the bottom of the inning with one out and the bases loaded for Ruiz. Ruiz, second on the team in runs batted in with 20 coming into the game, grounded into an inning-ending double play, making the Canes 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Miami finished the night 2-for-16.
That was Miami’s best scoring chance of the night, until the same scenario presented itself in the bottom of the eighth. Ruiz again came up with one out and the bases loaded, but this time struck out looking. Clemson reliever Alex Bostic nearly walked in the winning run while facing Lopez, but the senior shortstop lined out to left on a 3-2 count.
Abreu led off the bottom of the ninth with the score still tied and the 3,246 fans at the Light chanting his name, but he popped out to left field. Bostic retired the next two batters to send the game to extra innings, and then pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th.
The Canes (19-4, 6-2) ran starting pitcher Charlie Barnes out of the game after just 3.2 innings of work. Miami’s left-handed sophomore Michal Mediavilla didn’t last much longer, exiting the game after 100 pitches in 4.0 innings. Right-handed freshman Frankie Bartow got the second win of his career after holding Clemson scoreless in the 10th and 11th innings. Bostic gave up both walk-off hits to Abreu and Michelangeli this weekend.
The Canes will try to sweep Clemson at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Mark Light Field.