It’s now win or go home for the Miami Hurricanes.
Falling 10-2 to the South Florida Bulls in Saturday’s winners bracket matchup, the Canes must now win their next three games in the Gainesville regional in order to advance to the Super Regional.
“Tough game,” said Miami head coach Gino DiMare. “Not the route we wanted to take.”
The loss comes hours after host and top regional seed Florida fell 19-1 to South Alabama, ending the season of Miami’s perceived toughest roadblock.
But now the Canes must win their second game of the weekend over the Jaguars Sunday afternoon in the losers’ bracket before hoping to have a chance to beat USF twice, once Sunday night and again Monday.
“It’s going to be a quick turnaround. We have to be ready to go tomorrow,” DiMare said.
After scoring just one run in a winning effort a day ago against South Alabama, the Canes had eight hits and a combined .229 average facing the Bulls. But UM was just 1-11 with runners in scoring position and batted .167 with runners on base.
South Florida was .333 overall on the night while batting .267 with runners in scoring position and .500 in leadoff situations.
USF pitchers Colin Sullivan, Logan Lyle and Joseph Sanchez combined for seven strikeouts of the Hurricanes while surrendering four walks.
The Bulls made it 1-0 in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly. UM tied the contest in the second on a Tony Jenkins RBI single, scoring Christian Del Castillo.
South Florida had five runs on four hits and three walks in the rain-interrupted fourth inning before adding another pair of runs in the fifth.
Jenkins scored on a Yohandy Morales sacrifice fly in the seventh before USF once again extended their lead with runs in the seventh and eighth.
The game entered a delay due to torrential rain after South Florida took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. The stoppage lasted from 8:08 until 9:30 in the evening.
UM starter Jake Smith went just three and 1/3 innings, while surrendering five runs, five hits and three walks on against four strikeouts. Freshman reliever Andrew Walters allowed a walk and an earned run without getting an out before Alex McFarlane, Victor Mederos, Anthony Arguelles and Ben Wanger each pitched in the one-sided affair.
“[Smith] wasn’t sharp. No doubt about it. Some close pitches there, will have to see what some of those pitches were. But he wasn’t sharp like he normally has been. It was just one of those nights where it was tough,” said DiMare.
Miami plays South Alabama Sunday at noon in an elimination game at Florida Ballpark in a rematch of UM’s 1-0 Friday evening win. If the Canes earn their second win of the weekend over USA, they’ll see USF again at 6 p.m. Sunday night before forcing a regional championship matchup only if they can meet and beat the Bulls in tomorrow’s nightcap.
“We don’t have to win three games. We have to win one game three times,” DiMare said.