University of Miami

Regional-winning Hurricanes to face Boston College next at Mark Light

First baseman Christopher Barr of the Miami Hurricanes celebrates after touching home plate to score the game-winning run as Zack Collins awaits him during the NCAA Baseball Championship Coral Gables Regional finals game against Long Beach State University on Sun., June 5, 2016, held at Mark Light Field.
First baseman Christopher Barr of the Miami Hurricanes celebrates after touching home plate to score the game-winning run as Zack Collins awaits him during the NCAA Baseball Championship Coral Gables Regional finals game against Long Beach State University on Sun., June 5, 2016, held at Mark Light Field. lriely@miamiherald.com

The University of Miami baseball players likely spent the day sleeping Monday.

After their marathon weekend at Mark Light Field, it’s hard to imagine otherwise.

The third-ranked Hurricanes, who won the Coral Gables Regional late Sunday night and will face Boston College in a best-of-3-game super regional this weekend, narrowly escaped defeat in each regional game to pour on the fuel when it counted most.

Regional finals were still being played around the country Monday night, with the NCAA expected to announce schedules for this weekend’s eight super regionals as soon as possible after those games.

UM’s super regional could be scheduled for Friday though Sunday or Saturday though Monday.

Miami (48-11) defeated Stetson 4-2 on Friday and Long Beach State twice — 4-3 in 11 innings Saturday and 9-8 Sunday after relinquishing a seven-run lead.

Miami’s last two games totaled 8 hours 37 minutes.

In Saturday night’s game, Canes closer Bryan Garcia entered in the ninth going for his 42nd career save. He came one pitch away before pinch-hitter Jeff Nellis -- a rarely used junior who had played in 14 games with 21 at-bats and a .095 average -- took a Garcia offering and powered it over the left-center-field fence to tie the score at 3-3.

“I almost had a heart attack. I couldn’t believe it,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said of the pinch-hit homer.

The Canes won it in the 11th inning on Carl Chester’s RBI-single.

In Sunday night’s game, the Hurricanes allowed a six-run rally in the sixth and then gave up the game-tying run in the eighth on a failed pickoff attempt by freshman reliever Frankie Bartow. Miami had a golden opportunity to go ahead with bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but came up empty. The Canes finally won on a walk-off single by Randy Batista.

“We’re up 8-1 cruising, but the game is never over,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said. “It ain’t until it’s over, as Yogi [Berra] said, and it wasn’t. Long Beach State did a great job battling back. For us as a team, we have to understand that 8-1 is not enough. We’ve got to keep battling, scratching away.”

The Boston College Eagles (34-20), in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference swept through their regional in Oxford, Mississippi, as the No. 3 regional seed, advancing to a super regional for the first time since the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament expanded to 64 teams.

The super regionals were introduced by the NCAA in 1999. In the former NCAA format, the Eagles won districts four times to advance to the College World Series, the last time being 1967.

Eagles junior shortstop Johnny Adams went 4 for 4 with three doubles and three RBI in the tournament-clinching 6-3 win against Tulane on Sunday to earn the regional MVP honors.

“We talk about all the time offensively just to keep things simple up there at the plate,’’ Adams told reporters in the post-game press conference. “I was honestly just looking for a pitch in my zone. It happened to be fastballs every at-bat and I did my best to just hit [them] hard.’’

The Hurricanes, who haven’t played the Eagles since March 2014, won national titles in 1982, 1985, 1999 and 2001.

UM’s starter in the regional finale, Jesse Lepore (9-0, 2.20 ERA), left Sunday’s game with stiffness in his pitching shoulder. Lepore also was removed from the ACC tournament game against Georgia Tech on May 25 with a tight right shoulder early in the seventh inning.

“We’ll have to find out next week,’’ Morris said Sunday when asked if he had an update on Lepore. “He’ll be getting treatment all week. The shoulder just started to tighten up on him like it did up in Durham last week and I had to get him out of the game at that particular time. But he told me he was OK.

“But he wasn’t OK enough to stay in there. Hopefully, he’ll be OK next weekend.’’

▪ Zack Collins was named one of three finalists Monday for the Johnny Bench Award that goes to the top college catcher. Collins is hitting .358 with 13 home runs and a .631 slugging percentage. He leads the nation with 69 walks and has a .534 on-base percentage. The other finalists are Logan Ice of Oregon State and Keith Skinner of North Florida.

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