University of Miami

After shutout by Columbia, Miami Hurricanes pushed to baseball regional elimination game

Close call: UM’s Ricky Eusebio reaches first base during the Coral Gables regional game against Columbia on Sunday.
Close call: UM’s Ricky Eusebio reaches first base during the Coral Gables regional game against Columbia on Sunday. For the Miami Herald

The Miami Hurricanes came into what they hoped would be the Coral Gables Regional finale Sunday night with the nation’s best home record at 33-5, hitting .314 and having won 16 of their past 17 games.

They left it with silenced bats and a sparkling season down to one game.

After No. 3 regional seed Columbia defeated FIU in the afternoon, the Ivy League champions used two freshmen pitchers to make the once-hot Hurricanes look hopeless for a 3-0, two-hit shutout and force a winner-take-all regional championship at 7 p.m. Monday.

“We lost in every phase of the game,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “Columbia came out and did a great job. Their pitchers threw strikes, got ahead of us and kept us off balance all night. They played outstanding defense. They took advantage of a couple mistakes to get runs.

“Bottom line: We were outplayed.’’

The No. 5 national seed Hurricanes (46-15), who hadn’t been shut out all season before Sunday, must defeat the Lions (34-16) to advance to the second round of the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament — the super regionals — next weekend.

UM sophomore lefty Danny Garcia (6-1, 3.15 ERA), Miami’s usual No. 4 starter, will pitch Monday.

The Canes, whose two hits were back-to-back singles in the fourth inning by Chris Barr and George Iskenderian, were stifled by winning pitcher Bryce Barr (3-0) and fellow freshman Zack Bahm, his reliever.

“We were just trying to get people on base,” Iskenderian said. “I didn’t sense any frustration. Their pitchers just did a great job of keeping us off balance.”

The right-handed Barr, mostly used as a middle reliever this season, had not even started a game for the Lions since April 22. He came into the game with 15 walks to 19 strikeouts.

In five innings, Barr allowed both hits. He walked three and struck out two.

Reliever Zack Bahm hadn’t pitched since April 15 when he gave up two runs without recording an out. On Sunday he pitched three hitless innings.

Junior closer Adam Cline pitched the final inning for Columbia.

“After the first inning I was right at home, just a little bit of nerves the first two batters and it was sailing from there,” Barr said. “I’m not so much surprised because any team can win any day. Today we were the better team and it showed.”

With a flawless 7-0 record, Canes right-handed junior starter Enrique Sosa was 6-0 at Mark Light Field before Sunday.

Through 3 1/2 innings, Sosa, a junior with a mean curve, had struck out seven. But Sosa also led the Canes with eight wild pitches and 28 walks coming into the game, and walked home Columbia’s first run in the fifth on four straight pitches to Jordan Serena.

The Lions were aided by a fluke play leading ufp to the run, when UM left fielder Jacob Heyward lost Nick Maguire’s routine fly ball in the lights and it landed behind him for a single.

“We walked a guy and then we hit a guy,” Morris said. “You can’t blame it on one play. If a guy loses a foul ball, that’s part of the game. It was getting ready to get dark, and he didn’t see the ball off the bat.”

After Sosa walked in the run, sophomore Derik Beauprez came in to relieve him.

“I thought at the beginning I was pounding the zone throwing strikes,’’ Sosa said. “At the end I was just missing the zone. I couldn’t control my fastball.’’

Beauprez got John Kinne to hit into a double play, scoring Logan Boyher (single), and Robb Paller followed with a ground out to limit the damage and leave a runner stranded on third.

Columbia struck again in the seventh on Maguire’s single against Beauprez and back-to-back singles against reliever Cooper Hammond by Serena and Kinne — the only two batters Hammond would face.

Senior Daniel Briggi then replaced Hammond, striking out Paller and getting Joe Falcone to fly out to left.

Columbia became the first Ivy League team to win three games in a single NCAA regional.

“Just an outstanding team effort by our guys tonight,’’ Columbia coach Brett Boretti said. “We did a great job of not giving anything up for free on the hill and forcing them to hit. They hit some balls at us, and these guys did a great job locating and mixing speeds and keeping them off balance.

“To step in and do what they did today is pretty spectacular.”

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