The Miami Hurricanes are 2-0 when these two things happen: Michael Mediavilla starts, and Michael Burns hits a grand slam.
That’s what you call the Mike & Mike Show.
Yet, it wasn’t Mediavilla’s gutty 118-pitch effort or Burns’ 370-foot slam that proved decisive for Miami on Saturday night.
Instead, it was Burns’ 100-foot walk-off grounder to shortstop in the 10th inning that gave Miami a crucial and dramatic 5-4 win over rival Florida State in front of 4,999 fans at Mark Light Field. It was Miami’s first extra-innings win of the season.
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“Couldn’t draw it up any better,” Burns said of his grounder which became the game-winner when FSU shortstop Taylor Walls bounced his throw to first, allowing Brandon Gali to score from second base.
Miami, which needs to finish strong to earn an at-large berth and make the NCAA Tournament for a 45th consecutive season, improved to 19-20 overall and 10-10 in the ACC.
FSU is 25-16 and 10-10, and the deciding game of the series will start at noon on Sunday.
Miami’s winning rally started innocuously with a weak one-out dribbler to third base by Gali, which became a hit due to its perfect placement. FSU third baseman Dylan Busby was hoping it would go foul, but the ball ended up staying fair, slowly bouncing off the bag.
“He had me at two strikes,” Gali said of FSU reliever Alec Byrd. “We always talk about with two strikes to put the ball in play and see what happens. The result was a perfect example of what can happen when you put the ball in play.”
FSU brought in reliever Drew Carlton to face Burns. But before Burns could hit, Gali stole second uncontested, which turned out to be a huge play.
“I was surprised,” Gali said. “I thought it was a dead ball or something because the shortstop wasn’t even covering (second), and the catcher didn’t even make an attempt. I had the option, I went, and I was completely surprised.”
Burns then make solid contact but hit the ball right at Walls, who was a first-team All-America shortstop as a sophomore last season, according to Baseball America.
It was only Walls’ seventh error of the season, but it was the self-inflicted dagger for the Seminoles.
“I saw the throw,” Gali said of the error, “and I saw our dugout go crazy.”
Early on, it appeared FSU would secure the series win. DH Quincy Nieporte, the Seminoles cleanup hitter, pulled a homer to left to lead off the second inning and stroked a two-out, two-run single in the third, giving the Seminoles a 3-0 lead.
Burns erased that and more with his slam in the bottom of the third off of Tyler Holton. It was just Burns’ second homer this season, and both of them have been grand slams.
But while his slam against Georgia Tech on March 12 came with the Canes already up 9-4, this one was much more meaningful, serving to lift up a struggling offense.
“The scouting report said (Holton) throws a good changeup,” Burns said. “I had to see it up.
“In my first at-bat, I didn’t (see it up). I swung at it low. (My next at-bat), I was trying to make an adjustment. He hung one up on his changeup, and I got a good piece of the barrel on it.”
Burns’ trip around the bases was eventful. He did a little hesitation step just before first base.
“I’m a little guy,” said the 5-foot-9 Burns, “and I didn’t know if it was going out.”
Once it did clear the wall, Burns high-stepped it around third and touched home plate as he was mobbed by teammates.
That gave Miami a 4-3 lead that remained that way as Mediavilla gave a mighty effort. Although he got no decision, he was valuable, allowing three hits, four walks and three runs through 6 2/3 innings.
Mediavilla struck out 10 batters. In fact, the last four outs he got were on strikeouts, all of them swinging.
He exited with two outs and a runner on first. Reliever Andrew Cabezas then struck out Busby on a nasty slider. Busby had been FSU’s hottest hitter, entering the contest with a school-record five straight games with at least three RBIs.
That streak was broken on Saturday, but FSU pulled even in the eighth, when Jackson Lueck hit the first pitch from Cabezas for an opposite-field homer to left, tying the score 4-4.
“It was supposed to be a fastball in, but it got over the plate,” Miami coach Jim Morris said of the pitch that victimized Cabezas. “The ball was really carrying to left field.
“It’s always tough (to give up the tying run), particularly when your guys have been struggling. But they didn’t give up, and we got some breaks in the ninth with Gali’s swinging bunt, and their shortstop throwing it away.”
Cabezas (1-2), who went 3 1/3 innings in relief to get the win, likely won’t be available to pitch again on Sunday, when Canes freshman Greg Veliz (3-2, 2.41 ERA) will make his debut as a weekend starter.
Even so, the Canes got what they wanted on Saturday, evening the series headed to Sunday.
“This was a huge win,” said Mediavilla, who came within one strikeout of tying his career high. “This is the type of (series) win we need to put on our resume to get to the tournament.
“We had a lot of fight today.”