The University of Miami’s Christopher Barr picked quite a moment for his first college home run.
With UM unbeaten at 35-0 with the lead after eight innings this season but facing its second late-game collapse in as many days at the ACC tournament, the sophomore first baseman belted his first long ball in 283 career at-bats to lead off the bottom of the ninth as the sixth-ranked Hurricanes rallied to down Notre Dame 6-5 on Saturday.
“He had just thrown me a fastball in the same position, and I took it, but I didn’t mean to take it,” Barr said of his game-tying homer off Notre Dame relief pitcher Brad Bass. “Then he threw another one there, and I put a good swing on it.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a home run, because I didn’t know what a home run felt like, so I was rounding the bag going for a triple. That was the first thought I had. Then it went over the fence. It felt good.”
His teammates ribbed Barr about his lack of power after an inspiring victory.
“I’ve never seen him hit a home run,” joked Zack Collins, one of Miami’s power guys who belted his 15th of the season in the sixth that tied the score at 3. “He’s a great bunter for us, but he put one of the board at the right time. It is crazy how something like that can happen.”
But Barr’s homer just tied the score. Another unlikely offensive hero won it for the Hurricanes, who saw their 13-game winning streak stopped late Friday night.
With one out in the ninth, Collins walked, and David Thompson was hit by a pitch. Garrett Kennedy then singled into right, but Collins was held at third despite the ball being bobbled in the Notre Dame outfield.
That set the bases-loaded stage for shortstop Brandon Lopez, who was a combined 2 for 24 in the past two ACC tournaments. But Lopez was able to launch a ball deep into the right-center gap that fell in and easily scored Collins, who over his past 13 games has nine homers and 37 RBI. Collins was 2 for 2 with two runs scored and three RBI in this one.
“I feel like hitting is contagious,” Collins said when asked about being overshadowed by Thompson’s tremendous season. “Everyone is hitting every single game, and when someone is not, someone else is. David is having a fantastic year. I just go out there every day and play hard. I’m not worried about the big light shining on me; it’s about the big light being shined on us as a team at the end.”
Second-seeded Miami (44-14) matched its victory total from last year and picked up two key wins in the tournament heading into its 43rd consecutive NCAA tournament.
“It was a huge win after [Friday] night,” Morris said of the 12-inning defeat against N.C. State that eliminated the Hurricanes in Pool B from facing archrival Florida State in the ACC title game Sunday. “It was a crushing loss, and I felt it took the air out of our sails a little bit. Coming back late like we did was huge. Hopefully, this keeps our RPI at No. 1 going into the selections Monday. I’m very anxious to see what happens.”
And Morris now has more to think about than rankings and seeds. It was the second game in a row in which ace closer Bryan Garcia had blown a save opportunity.
This time, with left-hander Michael Mediavilla humming along after striking out four batters in 2 1/3 innings of relief, Morris decided to go to Garcia late when Mediavilla walked a hitter with one out in the ninth.
Garcia didn’t get an out, allowing an opposite-field double and another RBI single as Notre Dame surged ahead with two runs in the ninth. Cooper Hammond ended up closing out the game for the Hurricanes.