June 15, 2008


Ninth-Inning Nightmare

Hurricanes fail to close for first time this season


By Ben Trittipoe



OMAHA, Neb. – When Yonder Alonso hit a solo home run to give Miami a 4-3 lead over Georgia in the bottom of the seventh inning Saturday in Game 2 of the 2008 College World Series, most Hurricanes fans could be forgiven if they felt the game was all but over.


After all, Miami carried a 44-1 record when leading after seven innings into the weekend. And, when leading after eight innings, the Hurricanes were 45-0.


So when right-handed closer Carlos Gutierrez – with a team-high 13 saves this season – came on to start the ninth inning with that same 4-3 lead, the win was in the bag, right?




For the first time this season, the Hurricanes came unglued in the ninth inning and it cost them a 7-4 defeat at the hands of Georgia at Rosenblatt Stadium.


Bulldog catcher Bryce Massanari led off the top of the ninth with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Adam Fuller. Matt Cerione sacrificed Fuller to second, and it appeared Gutierrez had recorded the second out with a strikeout of designated hitter Robbie O’Bryan.


But as O’Bryan swung through the low pitch, Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal had the ball skip under his glove for a wild pitch. O’Bryan scrambled to first base, with Fuller moving up to third.


“We can’t have balls get away like that,” Miami head coach Jim Morris said. “Yasmani’s done a good job behind the plate all year, and he will be there when we come back [Monday].”


With the Hurricanes’ confidence shaken a bit, Georgia’s Lyle Allen singled to left field to tie the score. Then, the wheels came off for Miami as Gutierrez fielded a grounder back to the mound by David Thoms and threw it down the right-field line for an error. By the time the ball arrived back in the infield, two runs had scored and Thoms stood at third, from where he scored the final run on a single by Ryan Peisel.


“We’ve got to close games out at the end,” Morris said. “We’ve done it all year. We had them where we wanted them with a guy who’s done it all year. But if it hadn’t been for Carlos Gutierrez, we wouldn’t be in the position we are right now.”