June 8, 2008
Canes Power Past Wildcats
Four homers help tie up series
By Christina De Nicola
The Miami Hurricane
Christina De Nicola is the assistant sports editor for The
Miami Hurricane, the school paper at the University of Miami.
Going into only her sophomore year, she has already covered the
No. 1 baseball team in the country and national champion divers.
Christina also arguably claims to be the biggest Florida Marlins
fan (yes there are some out there) and started four years for
her high school softball team where she made all county.
Fla. - As
Arizona fans began to chant after a four-run first inning, it
seemed as though the No. 1 team in the country’s season would
come to a premature close.
With the way the first game of the Super Regional was decided,
however, a back-and-forth four- hour game seemed fitting as
Miami (51-9) held on after a comeback to defeat Arizona (42-18)
“A sign of a good team - always battles even when
you’re down four or eight,”
first baseman Yonder Alonso said.
A feeling of déjà vu occurred in the first inning when the
Hurricanes stranded two runners after a Jemile Weeks walk and
Alonso single with one out. Mark Sobolewski and Ryan Jackson -
who failed to reach base last night - both flied out to right to
end the threat. The Canes left nine runners on base the night
In the bottom half,
made Miami pay with four straight hits with two outs, including
a two-run shot off the bat of C.J. Ziegler deep to left. Rafael
Valenzuela had reached on an error by Jackson and advanced to
second on a sacrifice bunt. After Brad Glenn fanned for the
second out, Jon Gaston - last night’s hero - doubled in the
first run and Ziegler followed with his 20th dinger of the
“It felt good going out in front like we did,” Ziegler
explained. “We can’t change anything that we’ve been doing and
we just need to put ourselves in good positions.”
Luckily for Miami the bats that stepped up all year came to life
in a key fourth inning when Wildcat starter David Coulon faced
trouble finding the strike zone as the Hurricanes sent 12
batters to the plate and capitalized with six runs on five hits
and four walks to take a 7-4 lead.
“I was going out there and throwing strikes,” Coulon said.
“Those walks really caught up with me.”
Jason Hagerty blasted a two-run shot to left after Dennis Raben
led off with his second walk - he would go on to tie an NCAA
record with six free passes on the night - and Alonso connected
on his 22nd homer of the season to right to bring home three on
a two-strike count.
“He left me a changeup middle in,” Alonso said. “It barely got
out and I was very happy about that [after last night].”
The Wildcats came right back in the bottom of the inning with
three runs of their own as rain began to fall. Starter Eric
Erickson appeared to get out of his groove with the long
half-inning and was taken out after walking the leadoff man T.J.
Steele and giving up an RBI single to Mike Weldon.
Reliever David Gutierrez (5-0), who would pitch four innings for
the win, allowed a sacrifice bunt to advance Weldon to third and
an RBI groundout to Valenzuela with two outs to tie the game at
Miami’s offense produced four runs to regain the lead at 12-7
aided by two homers off reliever Mike Colla (4-3) who took the
loss- a solo shot on the first pitch of the sixth by Sobolewski
who went 3 for 6 and a three-run dinger off the bat of Yasmani
Grandal, the ninth batter.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch,” Grandal said. “He gave
it to me and I got a good swing on it.”
Home plate umpire Jim Garman began to hear it from Canes fans in
the bottom half when he called three close pitches balls to ring
up Gaston who turned on the 3-2 pitch for a two-run homer for
his second in as many games to right to cut the deficit to three
Arizona continued to chip away at Miami’s lead when Valenzuela
blooped an RBI two-out single to right with Raben shifted
towards opposite field. Reliever Kyle Bellamy struck out the
tying run Glenn to end the eighth and keep the score at 12-10.
With the infield in with one out and a runner at third, Jackson
pulled a ball that went between third baseman Glenn’s legs and
under the glove of the left fielder for two errors. An insurance
run scored on the play and with runners on first and second with
two outs, defensive replacement Adan Severino ripped a single to
right to score
for the 14-10 lead that wouldn’t be relinquished.
“It was a really sloppy night,”
head coach Andy Lopez said. “We put ourselves in a tremendous
amount of situations.”
Closer Carlos Gutierrez came back from a tough outing in which
he gave up the game-winning home run for a scoreless ninth to
finish the game.
“I felt good in the ninth with Carlos on the mound,” Sobolewski
said. “They battled all game like we did. That’s why we play
Sunday night’s rubber match is set to start at 7:30 p.m. and
will be televised on ESPN2. The scheduled matchup is between
Miami’s Enrique Garcia (6-2, 4.80 ERA) and
Eric Berger (8-3, 4.43 ERA). The winner will advance to Omaha
for the College World Series.
“Biggest win of the year for us,”
head coach Jim Morris stated. “It puts the pressure back on them
and swings the momentum towards us.”