Miami Rides Depth To College World Series
CORAL GABLES, Fla.—The “scuffle”—as Boston College coach Mike Gambino referred to it—will grab a lot of attention.
So, too, will Edgar Michelangeli’s two home runs and seven RBIs, as well as his bat flip and home run theatrics that precipitated the scuffle.
But from a purely baseball perspective, one thing Miami's 9-4 super regional-clinching win over BC on Sunday proved was the depth of coach Jim Morris’ attack.
From the fifth through nine holes on Sunday, Miami produced 12 hits. None were bigger than a three-run in the second inning and a grand slam in the seventh by Michelangeli, a redshirt junior third baseman who bats last in a dangerous order. You can see the highlights here.
“If you look up and down the lineup,” Morris said of his 'Canes, “a lot of guys had big days.”
On the grand slam, Boston College players took exception to Michelangeli’s bat flip and the way he rounded the bases with his right hand held high, and a brawl nearly ensued, although no punches were thrown and no one was ejected.
“You never want to see the benches clear,” Gambino said. “You don’t want to see a little scuffle like what just happened.
“What we talk about in our program is character, toughness and class. … I think our boys play hard. I think they play the game the right way. I think they respect the game and their opponents.”
The Hurricanes (50-12)—the No. 3 national seed—advanced to the College World Series for the second year in a row, where they'll face Arizona.
Michelangeli had hit just two career home runs until May 26, when he hit a go-ahead, three-run homer against North Carolina State in the ACC tournament. That was Michelangeli’s first experiment with a dramatic bat flip, and it caused a stir.
Morris said he felt secure after Sunday's slam.
“It was like the kiss of death,” Morris said. “It was over.”
The game might have been decided when the ball cleared the wall in left field, but the hostilities were just beginning.
Just before Michelangeli crossed the plate, he exchanged words with BC catcher Nick Sciortino, who took exception to the perceived show-boating.
After Michelangeli touched the plate, he ran to where his team had gathered outside the first base dugout, and then there was some brief pushing and shoving with BC players.
Both teams were warned, but Michelangeli downplayed the incident.
“It was too loud—I didn’t really hear what (Sciortino) said,” Michelangeli said. “I was very happy—I had a lot of emotions. I was screaming, ‘Let’s go!’ That’s it.”
On Sunday, BC fell behind 4-0 in the second inning, thanks primarily to Michelangeli’s three-run homer off freshman starter Jacob Stevens (4-4).
BC cut its deficit to 4-2 in the third on a two-out, two-run single by sophomore right fielder Donovan Casey, who finished with three RBIs.
The teams exchanged run-scoring groundouts—Miami in the fourth and BC in the fifth—and that set the stage for the dramatic seventh inning.
With one out, BC reliever Jesse Adams allowed a walk, a bunt hit and an infield single to load the bases. The next batter was Michelangeii, who hit a 3-2 pitch.
“I thought we had them with their backs to the wall—it was a full count, bases loaded,” Michelangeli said. “I knew they didn’t want to walk me, especially with me being the nine-hole hitter.”
Due to the scuffle, NCAA officials decided to not have the handshake line after the game.
Morris said that was the first time he could remember the ritual being skipped after the conclusion of a regional.
The incident provided a sour end to the season for the Eagles (35-22) who reached a super regional for the first time in program history.
Miami scratched sophomore righthander Jesse Lepore (9-0, 2.20 ERA). Lepore has been battling shoulder tightness since lasting just three innings in his previous start.
He was replaced by freshman righthander Andrew Cabezas, who lasted 2 2/3 innings (two runs allowed) and 47 pitches. Cabezas had also thrown 37 pitches in relief on Saturday night for a total of 84 tosses in less than 24 hours.
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Morris said he doesn’t know if Lepore will be ready to pitch in the CWS.