The University of Miami has taken pride in its comebacks this season, with Willie Abreu saying last week the Hurricanes were going to bring “Mark Light Magic” to the College World Series.
But on Saturday night, Miami didn’t threaten Arizona in its CWS opener all that much.
The Hurricanes’ quest for a fifth national championship took a big hit as Arizona scored three in the first and went on to beat UM 5-1. The Hurricanes stranded 10 baserunners at TD Ameritrade Park.
“It was very frustrating,” Abreu said. “We pride ourselves on big two-out hits, and we usually get them. That’s the game of baseball. We never stop fighting. We never thought it was over, we just ran out of time is the way we look at it.”
Miami, just one of two national seeds remaining along with rival Florida, is back in the loser’s bracket for the third consecutive time here since 2008.
Getting out of it and competing for a championship is going to be extremely challenging.
Miami has gone 1-2 in each of its past two trips to Omaha after falling into the loser’s bracket after opening night.
The Hurricanes (50-13) will try to avoid just their second two-and-out — better known as “two-and-BBQ” — in 25 trips to the CWS when they play UC Santa Barbara in an elimination game Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.
Miami beat Florida State in 2008 and Arkansas last year in the elimination opener.
On Saturday, ace Mike Mediavilla got into a quick jam as the Wildcats (45-21) made it 3-0 before the Hurricanes even got their chance to bat.
Mediavilla forced in the first run by issuing a walk with the bases loaded before giving up a two-run single down the right-field line with two outs.
Arizona didn’t do much but wait for Mediavilla to throw strikes in the first, as the Wildcats loaded the bases with a walk and two hit batsmen before Mediavilla walked Kyle Lewis with two outs.
Jared Oliva’s flare down the right-field line brought in two, although Miami got out of the inning as Lewis tried scoring from first and was thrown out by 10 feet on the relay from Johnny Ruiz to catcher Zack Collins.
“That [single] was huge with two outs because I thought we might get out of it with one run,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “They got the two-out hit, and that’s something we didn’t do.”
The Canes put runners in scoring position in both the second and third, but with two outs, and didn’t score.
UM did make it a 3-1 game in the fourth but squandered a prime opportunity as it had the bases loaded with one out when Christopher Barr singled in Brandon Lopez.
Edgar Michelangeli then struck out and Carl Chester grounded out to end the Miami threat.
Arizona pounced on its opportunity and put two more on the board in the top of the fifth, as Mediavilla gave up a leadoff double to Louis Boyd, with Cody Ramer singling.
Zach Gibbons doubled down the right-field line to make it 5-1 but did give Miami the first out of the inning by trying to turn his hit into the corner into a triple.
“I thought we had momentum back, but then we didn’t go out there and stop them,” Morris said. “They have an outstanding club.”
Mediavilla (11-2) lasted just five innings, and the five runs were his most allowed since Duke tagged him for eight on April 16.
“I just had trouble finding command, was trying to do too much and deviated from everything I told myself to do,” Mediavilla said. “I tried to do too much and let them break it open in the first inning.”
As was the case in the second and third, Miami put runners on with two outs in the seventh after Randy Batista singled and Collins walked.
But Lopez struck out looking to end the inning.
In the eighth, Abreu reached second with two outs but was stuck there as Miami’s 10th stranded runner after Barr grounded out to first.
The road for Miami to get into the CWS championship round is now extremely long and improbable.
With a win Saturday and in Monday’s winner’s bracket game, the Hurricanes would have been off until Friday, just a win away from the best-of-3 final series.
Now, to get into the final, Miami will have to not only win Monday but Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as well.
“You just have to think about one game at a time right now,” Morris said. “You win one, then think about the next one. You don’t think about elimination, or I don’t think that way. If you’re thinking that way, you’re going to be in trouble.
“You have to do whatever you need to do to win, keep playing the game. We’ve done that all year, did that [Saturday]. We just didn’t get the big hit.”