For a little while, everything was going great for Miami in its College World Series opener.
Then came a most disastrous, embarrassing — and historic — fourth inning.
The Gators absolutely picked the Hurricanes apart in an inning in which Florida scored 11 runs and cruised to a 15-3 victory at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Hurricanes, making their 24th trip to the capital of college baseball, had never surrendered so many runs in a single inning at the CWS prior to Saturday.
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Florida’s 12-run margin of victory was also Miami’s biggest defeat in a postseason game, surpassing 11-run defeats at the hand of the Gators (regional) in 2009 and Texas (CWS) in 2003.
No, Miami won’t look back fondly on its first matchup with the Gators in Omaha.
“It’s a disappointing game. The fourth inning says everything about it,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “Anything that could go wrong did. A lot of things happened. Down 10 runs, that’s difficult to come back from. You give Florida an opportunity, put guys on base, they get after you. We gave them opportunities.”
Believe it or not, before Florida’s outburst, Miami held a 2-1 lead with the Gators’ lone run coming on a phantom balk charged to starting pitcher Andy Suarez.
By the time the fourth was over, Suarez was on the bench as Miami (49-16) used three pitchers in an inning that didn’t actually last forever, even if it did feel like it.
“I just fell behind the count, they got the hits and found the holes,” Suarez said of the fourth. “There was nothing I could do about it.”
Florida, which sent 16 batters to the plate in the inning, tied the record for most runs scored in a CWS game.
Six other teams had scored 11 in a single inning, most recently Stanford in 2008 against Florida State.
Suarez, Miami’s ace, wasn’t great Saturday but didn’t get much help early in the fourth and suffered only his second loss of his junior season.
After walking leadoff hitter Josh Tobias, Suarez (9-2) got JJ Schwarz to ground to short. But Brandon Lopez bobbled the ball and overthrew first baseman Chris Barr trying to make at least one play.
Instead of turning the double play and having two outs, Florida had runners in scoring position with no outs. The Gators totally, completely and thoroughly took advantage of the situation.
The Gators (50-16) tied the score on a single from Buddy Reed, then took the lead for good on a sacrifice fly from Peter Alonso.
Miami didn’t get its second out of the inning until four batters later — by then, a lot of the damage had been done.
Sam Abrams, Miami’s hero in the super regional clinching win over VCU, got that second out after replacing Suarez with the Gators leading 5-2.
Abrams, however, didn’t get much more as the Gators began to really pour it on. Abrams was charged with three runs allowed, with Danny Garcia coming in to close out the inning.
After plunking Dalton Guthrie, Garcia finally ended the fourth (Florida did add three runs off Garcia) by getting Ryan Larson to ground to Lopez.
With the loss, Miami drops into the losers’ bracket and will face Arkansas at 3p.m. Monday. The loser gets sent home.
Florida moves into the winners’ bracket and a Monday date with Virginia at 8p.m. The loser of that game would face the Miami-Arkansas winner with the winning team getting a three-day break as it wouldn’t play again until Friday.
Miami had hoped to be in that position, especially after a few strong innings against Florida starter Logan Shore (10-6).
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead in the first after Ricky Eusebio came home on a deep fly to center from David Thompson.
Miami made it 2-0 in the third when George Iskenderian scored on another sacrifice fly to center from Thompson.
Florida battled back in the third, putting its first two on as Mike Rivera walked and Guthrie singled. Suarez got the next two out, but Rivera was waved in on a controversial balk on Suarez. Richie Martin then flied out to end the inning.
“I was working too quick, forgot to stop,” Suarez said of the balk.
Shore (100 pitches) ended up lasting into the sixth inning and was pulled after Lopez led off with a double to right. Miami cut into the Florida lead ever so slightly after Lopez scored on a Jacob Heyward single.
Florida extended its lead in the seventh with three more runs.
“We have to bounce back. A game like this is never much fun,” Morris said. “A lot of teams have come back from a loss and won it. We’re 0-1, have to play the next game in two days.”