In a 2-2 game in the fourth inning that had the University of Miami a win away from another College World Series berth and Boston College a loss from seeing its season end, the Eagles’ Mitch Bigras lined a Danny Garcia pitch to right field at Willie Abreu.
An out would have been ideal. Stopping the ball and limiting the damage to a single would have been the next-best option.
But when the ball hit the grass, rolled past Abreu’s glove and found its way deeper into the outfield, it proved to be the worst-case scenario on the play.
Two Boston College runners came home, leading the Eagles to a 5-3 win in Game 2 of the super regional Saturday at Mark Light Field.
The ball slipped past Abreu, a normally sound defender who has made his share of big plays in the field and at the plate for UM over the past three seasons.
“It can’t happen. That’s the bottom line. That shouldn’t happen at all,” Abreu said of the play. “That’s not the way we’re taught to do things. It was an error. Just got to get over it.”
The game subsequently slipped past Miami, a team that’s first four NCAA tournament games had consisted of rain delays, four-hour games and late-inning heroics before suffering its first loss since a 5-4 defeat at the hands of Florida State in the ACC tournament.
And now the Hurricanes’ season comes down to a winner-take-all game Sunday at noon against Boston College (35-21), the victor advancing on to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska.
After entering the weekend with the nation’s best fielding percentage (.983), Abreu’s third error of the season and fourth of his career compounded on an already tumultuous fourth inning for the Hurricanes (49-12).
Two at-bats before Abreu committed the error, UM second baseman Johnny Ruiz muffled a chopped ground ball from Eagles designated hitter Scott Braren. The ball died underneath Ruiz’s glove, Braren reached first unattested, and Joe Cronin trotted across home plate from third base for the score-tying run. A leadoff home run from Donovan Casey set the tone for the frame.
The Eagles never looked back from there, taking the lead and adding an insurance run in the eighth when a hard-hit single bounced past Ruiz’s extended glove and into right field.
The errors came just one day after UM’s 12-7 victory over Boston College where Miami outfielders Jacob Heyward and Carl Chester made a pair of diving catches. The plays robbed Boston College of runs that could have shifted the momentum of the opening game, which concluded just 11 hours before both teams arrived at the park for Saturday’s noon first pitch.
“It’s the norm for our outfield,” UM coach Jim Morris said after the Friday night win that opened the best-of-3 series. “Our defense has been very good in the infield and the outfield. We make a lot of diving plays, so it’s something that you expect.
“You expect them to catch balls that maybe other people do not catch.”
On Saturday, one catch didn’t happen. It made the difference.