The momentum seemed to be swinging in second seed Missouri’s direction. Third base umpire Steve Corvi called an out on a ball right fielder Dennis Raben dropped into shallow left that replays showed wasn’t caught.
But just when things seemed to be going wrong, left fielder Dave DiNatale worked a walk to jumpstart the Hurricanes offense.
With runners at the corners and one out, catcher Yasmani Grandal singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth to lead No. 1 Miami 6-5.
“Everybody has a bad day and you just try to do your best,” Grandal explained. “It always feels good when you put your team on top.”
Closer Carlos Gutierrez improved to 6-2, while All-American lefty Chris Hernandez went six and two-thirds innings and gave up three runs on 10 hits.
Tiger first baseman Steve Gray hit a game-tying two-run home run near the 365 sign in left center to tie the game up at five in the top of the inning. Catcher Trevor Coleman led off with a double to right and was almost thrown out by Dennis Raben on a close play at two. After getting a strike out and ahead in the count, reliever Kyle Bellamy left Gray a pitch to hit and he took advantage.
“I was just looking to score that run and I was able to get the barrel on it,” Gray said.
Miami scored in the first three innings, but couldn’t muster much of anything else until the final frame.
Third baseman Mark Sobolewski and shortstop Ryan Jackson in the middle of the order got it done again by going a combined 5-for-8 with 3 RBI and two runs scored. Jackson hit his fourth tater of the year after a single by Sobolewski in the third.
“I try to go out there every day and help the team,” Jackson said. “I got a pitch I could drive.”
DiNatale led off with a double to the wall in left in the second. After strike outs of the No. 8 and 9 hitters, center fielder Blake Tekotte blasted his 11th homer of the season off a palm tree in right field.
The Canes got it started in the bottom of the first on an All-American second baseman Jemile Weeks four-pitch walk. Sobolewski and Jackson followed with back-to-back singles to score Weeks from second to take an early 1-0 lead.
Mizzou’s offense racked up three runs on four straight singles in the fifth to reduce the Canes’ lead to two at 5-3. Center fielder Ryan Lollis’s hard line drive hit Hernandez on the leg to load the bases with one out. Pitching coach J.D. Arteaga and trainers came to check up on Hernandez who stayed in the ballgame, but wasn’t the same.
“He pitched better before he got hit. He’s going to be pretty sore tomorrow,” head coach Jim Morris said.
Miami (49-8) sits in the driver’s seat as the team will wait for the winner of Sunday’s rematch game between Mississippi (37-26) and Missouri (40-19) at noon in anticipation of game five scheduled for 4 p.m. Lefty Eric Erickson (7-1) will start for the Canes in the double elimination regional. The game will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast on WVUM (90.5 FM) and WQAM (560 AM).
“It was a great game to watch- for the fans, players, everybody,” Morris said. “Our guys can rest [tomorrow]and we only have to win one game to win the tournament.”
Christina De Nicola may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.