University of Miami

Hurricanes in driver’s seat at regional

MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The University of Miami baseball team is one victory from erasing four years of postseason frustration.

The nation’s No. 5 seed Hurricanes defeated Ivy League champion Columbia 8-3 Saturday night at Mark Light Field to advance to the Coral Gables Regional title game at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The Canes face the winner of Sunday afternoon’s elimination game between FIU and Columbia. They last played in a super regional — the second round of the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament — in 2010, when they lost at Gainesville.

“It’s a goal of ours, of course, to go to the [College] World Series and part of that is getting ourselves in the position we’re in and then winning the regional and winning the super regional to get there,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said. “You need to complete all your goals to reach the ultimate goal.’’

Four-time national champion Miami (46-14), which last went to the College World Series in 2008, would have another chance to clinch the regional title at 7 p.m. Monday should it lose Sunday. A victory Sunday would advance the Canes to a best-of-3 super regional series — also in Coral Gables — against the winner of the Dallas (Baptist) Regional.

Miami’s victory Saturday increased its nation-leading home mark to 33-4 at The Light.

The Hurricanes and Lions drew 3,315 fans Saturday, another loud night at Alex Rodriguez Park after a capacity crowd of nearly 5,000 watched the Canes defeat FIU.

The Hurricanes again got off to a fast start Saturday, scoring four runs in the second inning — three of them with no outs. David Thompson, hitting .342 after Friday’s three-hit night, singled through the left side to ensure for the 3,167th consecutive game that the Canes would not be no-hit.

Garrett Kennedy followed with a walk, Brandon Lopez singled to load the bases and Willie Abreu smacked a hard, rising line drive that sliced into the left-field corner for a double and knocked home two.

“We like to get out in front in the beginning,” Abreu said. “That keeps the momentum on our side, and we build on that. We’re a team that’s lucky enough to have great pitching to hold us down and be able to go and score more runs.”

Jacob Heyward’s subsequent single drove home Lopez to make it 3-0, and Chris Barr’s fielder’s choice scored Abreu for the 4-0 lead.

The Canes added two in the fourth on a bases-loaded, two-RBI single by Zack Collins, another in the sixth on George Iskenderian’s two-out double that scored Barr from first, and one in the eighth on a Collins’ RBI single.

And though Miami had 12 hits — six more than Friday — it again was aided by an efficient pitching performance by the starter.

Left-handed junior Thomas Woodrey came into the game having allowed just two earned runs since May 2 against Pittsburgh — a span of 24 innings. On Saturday, Woodrey allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks in 52/3 innings to raise his record to 7-2.

“Not my best,” Woodrey nonetheless said of his outing. “I expect to do better than that. But it was big to have a lead the entire game and that helped keep me calm. My goal was to get us back in the dugout … and let our offense power us through.”

Left-handed sophomore reliever Danny Garcia held Columbia scoreless and hitless in his 11/3 innings, with right-handed Cooper Hammond entering the game in the eighth for the first two outs and freshman Michael Mediavilla relieving Hammond. Closer Bryan Garcia got the final out.

Columbia (32-16) scored one against Woodrey in the second inning on a towering home run to right field by Gus Craig and added two more in the fourth on another right-field boomer by David Vandercook.

Lions starter Kevin Roy (6-4) was charged with the loss after allowing six earned runs on five hits and six walks in 32/3 innings.

“I want to congratulate Miami on a good victory,’’ Columbia coach Brett Boretti said. “Our guys battled well. We got behind the eight ball early -- they scrapped. It’s tough playing a team as tough as Miami and giving them quite a few opportunities early. We just didn’t have enough to overcome it.”

More coverage

▪ Strange twist: UM was the visiting team in its own ballpark, 8D

▪ FSU and Florida stay undefeated in their respective regionals, 8D

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