LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- For six innings Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes looked every bit like the blueblood program with 23 College World Series appearances under their belts.
They were poised to put the new-blood Louisville Cardinals, who are dreaming of a second CWS appearance, back in their place. But a six-run seventh inning, on two hits no less, undid everything as the Cardinals defeated the Hurricanes 6-4 in an NCAA regional at Patterson Stadium.
No. 2 seed Miami (37-24) must now defeat No. 3 seed Oklahoma State (40-18) at noon Sunday just to stay alive and get another shot at top seed Louisville at 4 p.m. The Hurricanes must then win that game and another against the Cardinals on Monday to advance.
UM beat Oklahoma State 7-0 on Friday.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Gino DiMare, managing the team in place of Jim Morris, who has pneumonia and remains at Duke University hospital. “They played the full nine innings there. I know when it got to 6-1, pretty much everybody in the park thought it was over when it was 6-1, except our guys. I was really proud of our guys, and we had a chance to tie it up there in the eighth.”
The first five innings were a pitchers’ duel.
Louisville’s Jeff Thompson struck out the side in the third inning, his only three strikeouts, and he flirted with danger for much of the rest of his 6 1/3 innings. Twice Miami hitters missed doubles down the right-field line by inches, including once against Thompson in the fifth inning. Miami got to him first, scoring the game’s first run in the top of the sixth when Tyler Palmer singled to left, reached second on a grounder thanks to the hit-and-run play, then scored on a David Thompson single to left field.
Then there was Bryan Radziewski (9-3), who put six more zeroes on the scoreboard to give UM’s staff a program record 24 1/3 scoreless innings in the postseason. He did it with strikeouts. He did it with moxie. He did it with a lot of great defensive plays behind him.
In the bottom of the second, center fielder Dale Carey caught Coco Johnson’s deep fly running full speed in left center, using the fence to stop his momentum. In the bottom of the third, Radziewski erased the first hit he allowed — a Wasserman single to right — by getting a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Sutton Whiting. And in the bottom of the fifth, Radziewski made another great play covering first base on a grounder, catching the ball while fully extended to get Jeff Gardner.
But the main reason for all of those zeroes was the left arm of Radziewski. Then he started the seventh by hitting Johnson on the foot.
“Whenever you start off an inning with a hit batter, it’s never good,” he said. “I had been battling all game and the next thing you know …”
His voice trailed off at that point. The next thing you knew, Jeff Gardner reached on an infield single off Barr’s glove at first base. Then came the most controversial play of the game. Cole Sturgeon looked to be attempting a bunt with two strikes. He was originally called out, but then he was put on first. What happened?
“They called it a foul ball, and then they looked at his hand and they changed the call,” DiMare said.
What did he see and hear?
“I just heard the ball hit the bat,” he said.
Catcher Garrett Kennedy was asked the same question.
“I heard it hit the bat,” he said.
Any chance it hit another part of his body first (his hand is part of the bat in that situation)?
“Not a chance,” he said.
That loaded the bases, and two batters later Zak Wasserman walked to bring in the tying run. Then with Sutton Whiting laid down a suicide squeeze with Sturgeon charging in from third. Radziewski couldn’t come up with it cleanly and everyone was safe. Javi Salas came in and walked Adam Engel to make it 3-1. Then Nick Ratajczak doubled off Thompson’s glove into the left-field corner to make it 6-1.
Miami managed to bring the winning run to the plate, scoring three runs before Louisville closer Nick Burdi came in and slammed the door. He struck out Kennedy, Brandon Lopez and Alex Hernandez to finish the game in the ninth.