The Hurricanes live to play another game at the College World Series thanks to an unlikely star.
Jacob Heyward, slotted ninth in the order, accounted for all of Miami’s runs in a 4-3 victory against Arkansas in an elimination game Monday evening.
“It looked like he was hitting a beach ball out there,’’ Arkansas leadoff batter Joe Serrano said.
A sophomore outfielder whose older brother Jason is an outfielder with the St. Louis Cardinals, Heyward gave the Hurricanes their first and second lead of the game — as well as the third and final one.
With a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth, Heyward laced a single into left, sending pinch-runner Carl Chester racing home with the winning run.
“I had fun,’’ Heyward said. “It’s a blessing to be here at the College World Series with my teammates, just playing hard for my teammates.’’
This is the Hurricanes’ 24th trip to the CWS and they have won at least one game here 23 times.
Miami (50-16) plays another must-win game Wednesday against the loser of Monday’s late game between Florida and Virginia.
The Canes lost 15-3 to the Gators in the opener here Saturday; Miami is 2-2 against the Cavaliers this season.
“Both are hot right now,” coach Jim Morris said. “They’re both outstanding clubs.”
Miami got a great start from Thomas Woodrey as he tossed six innings and the only run surrendered was aided on catcher Garrett Kennedy’s error.
The Hurricanes, who didn’t muster their first hit off Keaton McKinney until Zack Collins doubled in the fourth, finally broke a scoreless tie in the fifth when Heyward made it 2-0 on Miami’s first home run of the tournament.
Arkansas (40-25) battled back, tying it in the seventh.
In the bottom of the inning, Heyward singled with one out, stole second and raced home after an errant throw at third on a grounder from Ricky Eusebio.
“Honestly, it was just reaction,” Heyward said. “I knew I had the speed to get to third. Knowing in the College World Series that aggressive teams lead to mistakes, I tried to be aggressive and make that opportunity.’’
Arkansas wouldn’t go away, tying the score again in the eighth. Miami’s bullpen kept things interesting as Arkansas put runners on in the final three innings.
In the ninth, the Hogs had the bases loaded with two outs before Bryan Garcia got Rick Nomura to ground out.
“They did a great job every inning coming back,” Morris said. “They had the leadoff guy on for five straight innings. They kept answering. That’s a credit to a good team.”
Miami came to the plate in the bottom of the inning with captain outfielder Willie Abreu jacking a Zach Jackson pitch to the base of the centerfield wall.
Abreu’s leadoff double gave the Hurricanes a chance to end things — and Heyward came up big again. Heyward looked to bunt Chester over to third but fouled; Arkansas decided with two strikes not to walk him despite having first base open.
“He got an elevated curve ball and did a good job,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “He hit a mistake.”
Morris said he was relieved when the bunt didn’t work.
“I just had a feeling he was going to get a hit,” Morris said. “It was one of those days. Of course, he ripped it.”
Miami’s Joe Zagacki moved into a tie with longtime UM radio voice Sonny Hirsch for fifth place on most CWS games by a team broadcaster.
Zagacki and Hirsch both called 37 games in Omaha.
“I started following the College World Series when I was 10 after reading about it in Sports Illustrated,” said Zagacki, whose first trip to Omaha coincided with Miami’s second national title in 1985.
“I just always wanted to come to Omaha. To be here [Monday] and see this game, call this many games at the series, is actually pretty cool.”