University of Miami catcher Zack Collins called it “Mark Light Magic.’’
Stetson likely wouldn’t use the same description.
Randy Batista scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie Friday night and lead third-ranked University of Miami to an eventual 4-2 victory against the Hatters in UM’s opening game of the Coral Gables Regional.
After Batista’s run, the Canes scored again when what looked like a routine double play went awry on a throw by Stetson replacement shortstop Matt Morales that pulled the first baseman off the bag.
It was the 21st time this season that UM came back from a deficit to win.
“Anybody can do it in the lineup,’’ Collins said. “No matter what, when we’re tied or down going into the last couple innings, we always know something’s going to happen where we’re going to come back.
“It’s Mark Light Magic.”
Miami’s career saves leader Bryan Garcia gave up two singles in the ninth, but he got Stetson to hit into a double play and struck out the final batter to earn his 41st save and secure the victory.
Frankie Bartow (5-0) pitched only one-third of an inning, facing two batters with two outs in the eighth to earn the victory, while Josh Thorn (3-3) took the loss after also pitching a third of an inning. The wild pitch was only Thorn’s third of the season.
The Canes (46-11) will now meet Long Beach State (37-20) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Mark Light Field in the winner’s bracket.
The Dirtbags of Long Beach State defeated FAU 5-1 in the afternoon game Friday and will likely go with ace Darren McCaughan (10-1, 1.98 ERA) against UM ace Michael Mediavilla (10-1, 3.23).
And though middle relievers got the win and loss Friday, it was the starters who went the long haul and had outstanding performances.
UM starter Danny Garcia allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks in a career-high-tying 7 2/3 innings.
Stetson starter Mitchell Jordan also allowed two earned runs on four hits, with four walks.
“That’s the life of a closer or setup guy,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said. “You can go out there with the game on the line and be on top of the world or be on the bottom.’’
No. 3 national seed Miami came into the Coral Gables Regional having beaten Stetson in 113 of 156 meetings dating to 1947 — including once this past March by the same 4-2 score.
But the college baseball postseason throws all that into the incinerator.
After base-running hurt the Hurricanes in the second inning — at the plate and in the field — the Canes got on the scoreboard with two outs in the third when Carl Chester doubled to left-center and scored on Batista’s bloop to short-center.
The inning before that, Stetson’s John Fussell reached on an infield single and was caught off guard on a pretty pickoff attempt by Danny Garcia. But Canes first baseman Chris Barr chased Fussell down the basepath rather than throwing the ball to second, and Fussell turned what should have been an out into a stolen base. Fussell later scored on an RBI single by Will Mackenzie for the game’s first run.
Then in the bottom of the second, Miami’s Johnny Ruiz walked, advanced to second on an infield single by Jacob Heyward but was easily nailed trying to get to third on the play to end the inning.
Heyward came back to help put UM up 2-1 in the fourth when he sped to first base on a fielder’s choice, beating the throw by a millisecond to allow Brandon Lopez to score.
The Hatters made it 2-2 in the eighth on an RBI single by Austin Hale before UM took the lead on a walk by Batista, a hard single to right by Collins, a bloop single by Lopez to load the bases and the game-deciding wild pitch.
“It was a great feeling to put our team in a position to win,’’ Batista said. “Those are big runs at the end.’’
Stetson coach Pete Dunn said the Hatters won’t quit.
“I told them to keep their heads up, and we have to show up [Saturday] and win an elimination game. I’m convinced this club will bounce back.’’