Miami Hurricanes survive scrappy Boston College Eagles; Take Game 1 of Super Regionals 12-7
Miami infielder John Ruiz is greeted at home plate by teammates after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning as the University of Miami hosts Boston College for NCAA Coral Gables Super Regional baseball series at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field

Friday’s Super Regional matchup between the Boston College Eagles and the Miami Hurricanes featured a first round pitcher, Justin Dunn of BC, facing a first round hitter, catcher Zack Collins of Miami. Dunn faced off with Collins three times in the game, striking him out twice. However, even if he only won one of his three battles with Dunn, Collins made his victory over the 19th overall pick count.

Collins blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning, bringing Miami to a 3-1 lead over the upstart Eagles, a lead they would not relinquish. Miami staved off the BC comeback attempts, courtesy of three hits, two home runs, and five RBI from Johnny Ruiz. It took a while but Miami was finally able to claw its way to a healthy lead that helped them put the game away against the gritty underdogs out of Massachusetts.

Listed as heavy underdogs coming into the game, a very scrappy bunch of Eagles pushed and shoved with Miami, a perennial powerhouse, keeping it close for much of the game. However, despite all their scrappiness, the Eagles could not keep up with the talented Hurricanes, who overwhelmed their ACC rival with their speed and power, riding a spectacular late-game offensive performance to a 12-7 victory.

The gritty Eagles kept pace with the Hurricanes but Miami would gradually pull away, picking up three runs over the sixth and seventh innings to break open a one-run game, opening up a four-run advantage into the eighth inning. A grand slam highlighted a five-run eighth inning that blew the game open completely, allowing Miami to hold off the Eagles in Game 1 of their Super Regional Series. BC will now face elimination tomorrow.

Several diving catches negated would-be BC rallies for Miami. Photo courtesy of Al Diaz, of the Miami Herald

Eagles Strike First, but Home Runs Plague Dunn

The Eagles took advantage of a mistake by Miami to notch the game’s first run in the first inning. After a single by Michael Strem, Miami hurler Michael Mediavilla uncorked a wild pickoff attempt, allowing Stremto scamper all the way to third base. An ensuing groundout scored Strem with the first run of the ballgame. That mistake aside, Mediavilla pitched very well into the eighth inning, producing a gutsy 7.2 inning performance against a gritty BC squad that made him work for every out. BC’s ace, Justin Dunn, a first-round pick by the New York Mets last night (19th overall) struck out four over the first two innings to preserve the advantage. One of his strikeout victims was fellow first round draftee Zack Collins, the Miami catcher, drafted tenth overall last night by the Chicago White Sox. However, Collins got the best of Dunn in the third inning, as the Hurricanes started to get to the Eagles’ ace. Collins blasted a three-run shot in the third frame, staking Miami to a 3-1 advantage. The home run was just the second all year allowed. Later that same inning, Dunn allowed another home run, this one to Ruiz,...more dingers in one inning than he had allowed all season. Dunn would settle down after the two home runs, giving BC a chance to get back in the game.

Zack Collins is all smiles...after being drafted tenth overall the night before, he blasted a three-run home run to give his Hurricanes a lead. Photo courtesy of Al Diaz of the Miami Herald

Scrappy Eagles Claw Within One

While their ace weathered the potent attack that was the Miami offense, B.C. continued to claw away at the Hurricanes, refusing to give into defeat, even when facing a powerful Miami squad. A single and a walk brought the tying run to the plate with one out for the Eagles. They wouldn’t get a game-tying dinger, but Joe Cronin sent a booming double off the center field wall to make it a two-run game. Johnny Adams hit a high chopper to third that was slow enough to allow the run from third to score. BC failed to tie the game, but their dugout had new life after the productive inning.

Talented Hurricanes Begin to Pull Away

Chipping away at Dunn all night, the Hurricanes would eventually knock the Eagles’ ace out in the sixth inning, handing him his worst start of the year. After weathering the Miami attack for a pair of scoreless innings, Dunn surrendered three in the sixth. A gapper for two bases led off the inning for Miami. A groundout, which would have been an RBI single if not for an amazing play by BC 2nd baseman Jake Palomaki, moved the runner to third, ending the night of Justin Dunn. However, the Hurricanes did not stop once the ace had left the game. After a walk and another pitching change, Edgar Michelangeli ripped a bases clearing double to expand the lead to 6-3. BC would not recover, as Miami continued to pour on the pressure, chipping in another run in the seventh. A walk, bloop single, and infield single contributed to the tally in the seventh inning. The game wasn’t out of reach, but BC failed to score in the eighth, stranding a runner on second, setting the stage for Miami to blow the game wide open in the bottom half of the inning. BC’s bullpen struggled to throw a strike, loading the bases with a walk, hit batter, and another walk. Then, if that wasn’t enough, they hit another batter to force across a run with one out in the eighth inning, bringing up the sizzling bat of Ruiz. Ruiz stayed hot, blasting a grand slam to right center field for a 12-3 Miami lead.

BC doesn’t go away, but huge deficit is too much to overcome

Had it not been for the grand slam off the bat of Ruiz, BC’s ninth inning rally would have been much more exciting for the fans in attendance. BC struck for four runs in the ninth inning, bringing the final score to a more respectable 12-7 mark. Scott Braren came off the bench to smash a three-run home run, bringing the deficit to six runs. Nick Sciortino later drew a bases loaded walk, bringing home BC’s final run of the night. However, it was much too little and much too late as Miami took home the victory, coming within one run of yet another College World Series appearance.

Mediavilla produced a gutsy performance that helped lead Miami over the Boston College Eagles. Photo: Al Diaz of the Miami Herald

In other College Baseball Action…

Three other Super Regional games were played on Friday, with the road teams pulling upsets in the other three games. Emerging as victors on Friday were the Arizona Wildcats, (1-0 over Mississippi State), East Carolina, (8-6 over Texas Tech), and TCU, (8-2 over Texas A&M).