University of Miami

Abreu walk-off slam lifts No. 6 UM baseball past No. 4 Louisville

UM outfielder Willie Abreu, shown in an earlier game, hit a three-run home run and a walk-off grand slam to help the Hurricanes defeat Louisville 8-4 on Friday, March 18, 2016 at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables.
UM outfielder Willie Abreu, shown in an earlier game, hit a three-run home run and a walk-off grand slam to help the Hurricanes defeat Louisville 8-4 on Friday, March 18, 2016 at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The wait was a bit nerve-racking, but thanks to two home runs and a seven-RBI night by Willie Abreu, University of Miami coach Jim Morris earned career victory No. 1,500 Friday night.

Abreu crushed a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to clear the bases and give the sixth-ranked Hurricanes an 8-4 victory over No. 4 Louisville in an Atlantic Coast Conference heart-thumper at Mark Light Field.

Abreu also had a three-run homer in the second inning.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,’’ Abreu said of his grand slam that towered over the right-field fence. “That’s the first time I’ve ever done that. It was amazing. I’m glad everybody stuck together and was able to get that done. It was a great team win.”

A team win that Morris, only the sixth coach in Division I baseball to reach the 1,500-victory milestone, will never forget. Morris is now 996-408, with three ties, at UM.

His overall record: 1,500-652-4.

“We came back against a guy that is touted as one of the top pitchers in college baseball,’’ Morris said of Louisville closer Zack Burdi, who took the loss but had not allowed a hit, run or earned run in six previous appearances this season. “We battled as a team and did some little things. … Willie had two home runs, player of the game needless to say.”

Said Morris of his milestone: “It’s a lot, isn’t it? I’ve been coaching a long time. But you know what, it’s a great way to get it. I’ll remember the 1,500th without question.”

The eight runs and 12 hits for UM (15-3, 3-1 ACC) were the most allowed by the Cardinals (15-3, 3-1) this season.

The winning pitcher: UM closer Bryan Garcia (1-0, 0.79 ERA), who came in to pitch the final inning.

Right-handed UM freshman Andrew Cabezas relieved starter Thomas Woodrey (2-2, 6.15 ERA) with two outs in the sixth and bases loaded for Louisville, then promptly got leadoff batter Corey Ray to ground out.

Cabezas pitched a strong 2 1/3 innings, striking out three and allowing just one hit and one walk for Garcia to take over in the ninth.

Louisville right-handed senior starter Kyle Funkhouser (2-1, 4.40), who chose to return to the Cardinals after being picked in the first round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, struggled with his command. He allowed three earned runs on four hits and five walks in five innings. He stuck out four.

With Louisville leading 4-3, Miami scored the tying run in the eighth. Brandon Lopez got it going with a high fly that Louisville right fielder Lyman misplayed for the error. Abreu’s sacrifice bunt sent Lopez to second. With one out, Randy Batista was hit by a pitch. Carl Chester’s single to left drove home Lopez to make it 4-4.

Louisville went up 4-3 in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Devin Hairston that scored Brendan McKay (single). The Cardinals also scored one run in each of the first, second and fourth innings.

The Hurricanes scored three in the second when Abreu crushed his three-run boomer to right field to put UM up 3-2.

The Canes and Cards play again at 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU), with left-handed sophomore Michael Mediavilla (3-0, 2.57) slated to start for Miami and left-handed sophomore Brendan McKay (4-0, 0.33).

Susan Miller Degnan: 305-376-3366, @smillerdegnan

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