He’s long been the legend who followed the legend.
Now he’s Jim Morris, Miami Hurricane 1K.
Morris got win No. 1,000 as the Canes coach late Saturday night thanks to Edgar Michelangeli’s one-out, walk-off single to right field that beat visiting Clemson 5-4 in 11 innings.
“It was a crazy way to get your 1,000th,” said Morris, who took the Miami job in 1994, with only a one-year gap after the legendary Ron Fraser had retired. “It’s a significant (feat) for me. But for our team, the most important thing is that win tonight.”
That win – Miami’s second straight in walk-off fashion – seemed like it would never come as the game dragged. The game took 4:28 to complete. Miami’s 9-8 walk-off win over Clemson on Friday took 3:58.
But Miami second baseman Johnny Ruiz, who got the winning rally started on Friday with a leadoff double, got things going again, this time with a leadoff walk.
Brandon Lopez’s sacrifice bunt pushed Ruiz to second, and Clemson issued an intentional walk to Willie Abreu, who had homered to beat the Tigers on Friday.
That set the table for Michelangeli, who found a hole between first and second base for his fourth hit in six at-bats on Saturday. Clemson right fielder Seth Beer, one of the best power hitters in college baseball, charged the ball and threw home, but it was not in time to get Ruiz.
Miami’s players rushed to the field to mob Michelangeli while the scoreboard played a video tribute to Morris.
Canes reliever Frankie Bartow, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief to get the win and improve his record to 2-0, said he had seen on Twitter that this would be Morris’ win No. 1,000.
“But we just tried to treat it like a regular game,” Bartow said.
That formula has been working for the fourth-ranked Canes (19-4, 6-2 ACC), who will send left-hander Danny Garcia to the mound on Sunday in an attempt to earn a sweep over Clemson (17-5, 5-3).
Miami is tied for first place in the Coastal Division, and their ranking by Baseball America is the Hurricanes’ best since 2008.
The Canes got some disciplined performances on Saturday from leadoff man Carl Chester and three-hole hitter Zach Collins.
Chester got on base five out of six times, getting three walks, one hit and one hit-by-pitch, scoring Miami’s first run.
Collins drew four walks and went 1-for-2. His first-inning single drove in Chester. Collins has now reached base in 18 straight games.
But while Chester and Collins were getting on base, Miami’s pitching struggled early.
In the top of the first, Canes starter Mike Mediavilla lost Chris Okey on a two-out, full-count walk. Beer made Mediavilla pay for his close miss by launching a line-drive, two-run homer to center.
Beer, who entered the weekend No. 1 in the nation in slugging percentage, extended his hit streak to 20 games, a Clemson freshman record. Ironically, Beer was supposed to be a high school senior this season, but he graduated early, and now he leads the ACC with 10 homers.
The Hurricanes tied the score 2-2 in the second when Michelangeli, batting in the eighth spot, stroked a one-out triple to left-center and scored on a groundout by freshman Romy Gonzalez.
Miami took a 3-2 lead in the third on a run-scoring double by Lopez, and the Canes stretched their lead to 4-2 in the fourth on a Clemson error.
But Clemson tied the score 4-4 in the sixth when Chris Williams hit a two-run homer to left off reliever Kevin Pimentel. It was the first homer of Williams’ Clemson career. The sophomore entered the game batting .182 and hitting eighth in the order.
Miami’s pitching finished strong, however. Freshman reliever Andrew Cabezas pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out three.
After getting a strikeout to end the ninth inning, he fired up an emphatic fist pump as he exited the field.
Cabezas got the ball to Bartow and Bartow surely got the ball to Morris as a keepsake for win No. 1,000.
“To me, the most influential coach in the history of college baseball was Ron Fraser,” Morris said. “I wouldn’t have come here if it weren’t for him.
“I told him I was following the Bear Bryant of football, the John Wooden of basketball. Ron Fraser is in that same category in baseball. Tough act to follow, but the only reason I came was because I knew he was with me.”