Thanks to a cocky, home-run hitting Hurricane named Edgar Michelangeli, the University of Miami is bound for Omaha, Nebraska.
In a winner-take-all Super Regional finale, Michelangeli crushed two home runs, including a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh that nearly ignited fisticuffs, to send Miami to its 25th College World Series with a 9-4 victory Sunday over Boston College.
“A lot of guys had some big hits, but none of them were bigger than Edgar’s,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said.
Michelangeli, a 6-1, 210-pound junior from Miami, is the young man whose well-chronicled bat flip was seen nationwide last month after his three-run homer proved the game-winner in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. His first homer Sunday was a three-run blast in the second inning, punctuated by some high-steppin’ fun near home plate.
His grand slam almost caused fists to fly. With Willie Abreu on third, Jacob Heyward on second and Chris Barr on first during a downpour, Michelangeli took a one-out, full-count pitch by Jesse Adams and sent it over the left-field fence as the Canes fans at Mark Light Field went berserk.
“I thought we had them with their backs against the wall,’’ said Michelangeli, who bats ninth in the lineup and knocked in a career-high seven runs. “It was a full count and the bases loaded, so I knew he didn’t want to walk me. … I knew I wanted to be aggressive on that pitch.’’
Michelangeli flipped his bat, rounded the bases, thrust his right hand into the air and pointed skyward. Then, as he approached home plate, Eagles catcher Nick Sciortino said something to him. Looking straight at Sciortino, Michelangeli pounded his chest, emphatically slapped his hands together, raised both fists and touched home plate as he was mobbed by teammates.
Seconds later, tempers flared, the Eagles charged across the field from their dugout and both teams came face to face. After several minutes, coaches and umpires separated the teams and warnings were issued. No ejections were made.
Boston College, which ended its season at 35-22, scored one in the eighth, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
BC coach Mike Gambino praised Miami for another CWS berth — “it’s ridiculous what Miami does to go there the amount of times they do,’’ he said — but defended his players for “standing their ground.’’
The teams did not shake hands after the game. Instead, coaches from both teams briefly met behind home plate.
“It’s the only time we haven’t shook hands since I’ve been at Miami that I can remember,’’ said Morris, who noted that he, the NCAA representative and an umpire agreed “it would be better’’ if the teams remained separated to “make sure nothing happens.’’
The third-ranked Hurricanes (50-12) posted back-to-back 50-win seasons for the first time since 1998 and ’99. Miami, winners of four national titles, has reached Omaha every year it was a national seed — in 1999, ’01, ’03, ’04, ’08, ’15 and this year as the No. 3 seed.
The win marked Morris’ 13th trip to Omaha since he took over in Coral Gables in 1994. Morris only needed four pitchers on Sunday to get there: freshman Andrew Cabezas, senior Thomas Woodrey, freshman Frankie Bartow and junior Bryan Garcia. Usual set-up man Bartow (6-0, 2.73 ERA), a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, earned the win after going a career-long 3 1/3 innings.
“I was staying focused,’’ Bartow said. “I knew I was doing well in the previous innings because I was pounding the zone, getting quick outs, getting ground balls and letting the defense work.’’
UM career saves record-holder Bryan Garcia went the last 1 1/3 innings for his 43rd save and 18th this season.
Right fielder Willie Abreu led Miami on offense in the three-game series by hitting .583 (7 for 12) with one RBI. But Abreu, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Colorado Rockies, won’t be back in 2017 and wants a national title, something the Canes failed to achieve when they made it to Omaha last year.
“We are by no means done,’’ Abreu said. “This isn’t the end goal. By no means is this over.’’
UM will meet Arizona (44-21) in the first round of the double-elimination CWS, which begins Saturday and ends either June 28 or June 29.
“We won’t be happy unless we bring home a ring,’’ Morris said.