Call him “Home Run” Heyward.
It might not be as catchy a nickname as “Walk Off” Willie Abreu, but the moniker was accurate late Saturday night as Jacob Heyward’s solo home run in the bottom of the 11th inning led fourth-ranked University of Miami to a 4-3 victory over visiting Pittsburgh.
The Hurricanes (39-9, 18-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) have hit three walk-off homers this season — two by right fielder Abreu and one by Heyward, the junior left fielder who hadn’t hit one of these since his high school days in Georgia.
“I put a good swing on it,” Heyward said. “When I hit it, I thought it had a good chance to go.”
Never miss a local story.
Indeed, Heyward pulled an inside pitch, yanking it down the left-field line for his sixth homer of the season. Just as he passed first base, he stuck his right arm out horizontally, signaling the beginning of his home run trot.
After he stepped on third base, he used his right hand to remove his batting helmet, flinging it about 20 feet in the air. Then he raced home and leaped into the arms of his entire team, which had gathered at the plate.
UM starting pitcher Mike Mediavilla, who took a no-decision, was in the dugout with his teammates when Heyward hit his shot.
“I was screaming, ‘Get up! Get up! Get over!’ ” Mediavilla said. “I was screaming as loud as I can, hoping it got over.”
It did get over, giving the Canes their 14th consecutive victory over Pitt.
But the win wasn’t easy.
In fact, it was odd in certain ways.
Pitt freshman reliever Yaya Chentouf (0-1) was brilliant. He had pitched 5 1/3 hitless innings. Yet he took the loss because of the one and only mistake to Heyward.
On the other side, Miami’s Bryan Garcia, who would have passed Rick Raether for second place in career saves at Miami, failed to close the door in the ninth. He has 12 saves this season and 37 for his impressive career.
It was just his second blown save of the season.
Even odder, redshirt junior Ryan Guerra (1-0) earned the win by throwing just one pitch. He inherited two baserunners in the top of the 11th but got a groundout to shortstop Brandon Lopez to earn his first career win.
Pitt (25-22, 10-15) has played better than its record in this series, losing the first two games by one run.
Miami, though, improved to 10-2 in weekend series this season, losing only to Florida and Virginia, both at home, both two games to one.
With a win in Sunday’s regular-season finale, Miami will clinch the ACC’s Coastal Division. It would also be UM’s sixth sweep of the season.
Mediavilla, who is 9-1, allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He left with a 3-2 lead and would have been the first Miami pitcher since Chris Hernandez in 2010 to reach 10 wins had Garcia nailed down the save in the ninth.
The rest of Miami’s bullpen was solid. Frankie Bartow pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, getting a huge double play to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.
Thomas Woodrey, who has been shifted from Friday night starter to the bullpen, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
Three Miami batters had two hits each — Heyward, Chris Barr and Zack Collins. Barr had a triple and two runs scored. Collins had one RBI, tying him with Abreu for the team lead, and one run scored.
Heyward bounced into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth and failed to get a bunt down in the ninth, popping out to the catcher. But he took his frustrations out on the pitch from Chentouf.
“I was really upset at myself,” Heyward said of the bunt. “You have to get the job done when asked to do it.”
Maybe it was a little later than he would have liked, but Heyward got the job done late Saturday night.
And the dent he put in his soaring batting helmet can serve as proof.