The indomitable Miami Hurricanes are going to the College World Series — by virtue of their 10-3 victory over Virginia Commonwealth University, fueled by a most unlikely hero named Sam Abrams.
Call him what you like: “KAbrams,” as AP writer Tim Reynolds coined or “Get-out-of-a-Jam Sam,” as Abrams’ dad, Chris told Miami Herald correspondent David Furones.
But just make sure you add “winner” to the bunch.
Abrams, a 23-year-old walk-on, barely pitched in his three previous seasons at Miami and earned his master’s degree in accounting while basically sitting on the bench.
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The right-handed Abrams replaced struggling left-handed starter Thomas Woodrey with bases loaded, no outs and a 3-3 score in the third inning Saturday.
Keep in mind that he pitched a total of 2 2/3 innings in 2014 and 1 2/3 innings in 2013, and was cut during tryouts before his 2012 sophomore season (He tried out again and obviously made it).
So, back to bases loaded: Abrams, a sidewinder with a ball that has plenty of movement and very little speed, struck out the first batter.
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Abrams struck out the second batter.
Abrams got the final batter that inning to fly out to a pumped right fielder Willie Abreu, the Hialeah kid who smacked a home run in the ninth inning to punctuate the victory.
In all, Abrams gave up a measly single in a career-high four innings pitched. He struck out four and didn’t walk anyone. He got the win in the biggest game of his life.
Amazing if you consider the atmosphere,what was at stake, and his struggles even making the team.
“I had already applied to other schools. I was planning on where I was going to live and I was actually working at an accounting firm,” Abrams said. “I decided that this isn’t what I want to do anymore. I didn’t want to keep [working at the accounting firm] until I got done with college, so I decided to come back and it worked out perfectly.”
Sam’s family — his dad, his 25-year-old sister Alexa, his mom, Lisa Goldstein, and his bubbly, chatterbox little brother Dylan, 12, — were all there cheering him on. They’ve been coming to games for years.
“Me and my sister used to come to the games with my dad,” said Abrams, a Miami native. “In ’99, when they won the championship, that was the first year we came. [Alexa], she’s crying, freaking out because she can’t believe I’m actually in this moment. It’s amazing for all of them to be here.
“My little brother has told me every single tweet that has been tweeted about me already. My little brother is kind of crazy. A lot of people see him running around here, so he probably has all of [the tweets] favorited and will show them to me later.”
I talked to Dylan, who couldn’t have been more excited, as the crazed crowd repeatedly chanted “You’re not Abrams!” to the unfortunate VCU relief pitcher.
“I’m SO proud,” Dylan said. “Sam’s dream was always to play here. I’m shocked. I had to sit somewhere else because my mom freaks out and makes me nervous.
“I was thinking, ‘Is Sam going to break Omaha or is he going to make Omaha?’”
Now Dylan — and the rest of the college baseball world — knows the answer.
“He’s going to make it!” Dylan said.
That, he did.
UM will meet Florida (49-16) in the opening game of the College World Series on Saturday.