For a minute Saturday — maybe a couple — it seemed as if the Miami Hurricanes might not be invincible after all.
But like a mirage in the desert, that notion disappeared for good with a seven-run sixth inning that included three home runs and sent the Hurricanes coasting to a 17-4 regular-season finale victory over Georgia Tech at Mark Light Field.
The Hurricanes (42-13, 22-8 Atlantic Coast conference), who play next week in the ACC tournament, have won 12 games in a row, scoring 170 runs to their opponents’ 21.
UM has hit .390 during the streak. Its opponents: .174.
And for those who surmise the Canes’ pitching staff hasn’t contributed, consider that Miami’s earned run average has been 1.67 during the win streak. Its opponents’ ERA: 13.91.
“It’s amazing,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “I come up to the press conference and Garrett Kennedy doesn’t get to come, and he went 4 for 5 — so that tells you how we swung the bat today.”
The three who did attend the postgame news conference were third baseman David Thompson, designated hitter Zack Collins and left fielder Jacob Heyward. Each of them hit a home run in the seventh — the first time since May 2, 2009 (Yasmani Grandal, Chris Herrmann, Harold Martinez), that UM accomplished the feat.
“I definitely wouldn’t want to be the other team’s pitchers right now,” said Thompson, who leads the nation with 78 RBI, the ACC with 19 home runs and has hit six home runs since last Sunday — four of them in the past two games. “You can’t walk anybody because then you’re just going to have to face another great hitter.”
Second baseman George Iskenderian, hitting .525 during the win streak, ended the regular season as the unofficial ACC batting king with a .391 average.
And if there were any doubts about UM’s status as a strong candidate for one of eight national seeds in the NCAA tournament that begins May 29, they have all but dissipated.
Not only does UM, ranked as high as seventh by Collegiate Baseball, have the nation’s No. 2 RPI, but also nemesis Florida State was swept this weekend by Clemson.
“Our goal, from Day One in the fall, is to be a national seed,” said Morris, who led Miami to two of its four College World Series titles in 1999 and 2001. “That’s something that is talked about a lot. Omaha is talked about a lot. If it ended [Saturday], I think we should be a national seed. But we still have the ACC tournament, and we’ve got to go up there [to Durham, North Carolina] and play well to deserve it.’’
UM has earned the No.2 seed in the round-robin tourney and will be in PoolB with No.3 seed Notre Dame (35-19, 17-13) No.6 North Carolina State (31-20, 15-14) and the winner of No.7 Virginia (33-19, 15-15) and No.10 Georgia Tech (32-22, 13-17).
Louisville (42-15, 25-5) heads Pool A, followed by No.4 seed FSU (37-19, 17-13), No.5 Clemson (31-25, 16-13) and the winner of No.8 North Carolina (32-22, 13-16) and No.9 Virginia Tech (27-26, 13-16).
The Canes are guaranteed to play at least three games in the tourney against the other three teams in their pool between Wednesday and Saturday, with the title game Sunday.
In Saturday’s regular-season finale, reliever Cooper Hammond got the win after the Yellow Jackets shelled starter Enrique Sosa for four runs — three of them in the fourth — on eight hits in 42/3 innings.
When Georgia Tech battled back to make it 4-4 in the fifth, UM struck again with a leadoff double by Collins, an RBI-double by Kennedy, a single by Willie Abreu and an RBI-single by Brandon Lopez to go ahead for good.
“It’s really crazy we keep doing this against ACC competition,” said Heyward, younger brother of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward. “We have one of the best lineups in the country, for sure.’’