Never say die.
It seemed like No. 2-ranked Miami baseball was in line for its first home loss in more than a month Tuesday night against Florida Atlantic University.
Instead, the “Cardiac Canes” had other plans, coming back from a 6-2 deficit, scoring two runs in the seventh inning and three more in the eighth to complete the comeback and secure its 7-6 victory at Mark Light Field. Miami also extended its win streak to a nation-best 14 straight games.
“Thank god, we were able to score five runs in the last two innings to get the victory,” Miami head coach Gino DiMare said. “We battled back. The pitchers that came out of the pen did a great job to hold it over.”
Sophomore righty Jake Garland gave up just four hits and one earned run, but only made five full innings on 96 pitches. Garland struggled in the first inning, allowing four FAU batters to reach base, two of which scored. He then found his usual groove, keeping the ball low in the zone to force seven groundouts and shut out the Owls for the rest of his outing.
The Hurricanes’ offense, however, struggled to string together hits early. Besides a two-run second inning, Miami (27-6, 13-2 ACC) lacked RBI hits runs until the seventh inning rolled around.
FAU (21-13, 7-5 C-USA) strung four runs together in the top of the sixth off of solid hitting and sloppy fielding from Miami. It seemed like the Owls’ offense would continue the strong inning until sophomore shortstop Dominic Pitelli completed a clutch double play to end the inning.
The Hurricanes offense found a spark in the bottom of the seventh, thanks to sophomore first baseman CJ Kayfus’ leadoff single. After outfielder Edgardo Villegas was hit by a pitch, junior catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. drove a base hit into right field, scoring Kayfus easily and allowing Villegas to make it home after an errant throw at third.
In the eighth inning, Miami’s fans were electrified after freshman pinch hitter Gaby Gutierrez scored following an FAU error, and a passed ball allowed Villegas to slide into home to level the score at six.
With runners on second and third, Southeastern Louisiana transfer outfielder Jacob Burke beat out an infield ground ball to score sophomore third baseman Yohandy Morales for a 7-6 lead.
Miami’s late-game weapon in sophomore Andrew Walters struck out the side in the ninth to secure his 11th save of the season and extend the Hurricanes’ win streak to 14 games.
“I was ready for our team to come back,” Walters said. “We have heart, you can feel it in the air. No deficit is out of reach for us. We’re out there to win every game.”
It was a game to remember and build off of for the young Canes, who currently sit at number two in the NCAA baseball rankings. The team looks to continue its successes and keep its monumental winning streak alive this weekend as they face a three-game away series versus Virginia Tech. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Veteran reliever JP Gates earned his first win of the season, despite recording only the final out of the eighth inning. The Owls’ right-hander Robert Wegielnik (2-1) was tacked with the loss, allowing Burke’s RBI hit.
“We obviously weren’t playing our best brand of baseball for the first six innings, but at the end of the day, nobody panicked,” Burke said. “Throughout this winning streak, we’ve gained a level of confidence that no matter what happens, if we stay together, we’ll find a way to get the win.”