Sophomore left fielder Jacob Heyward etched his name into Miami’s illustrious postseason history Monday, as he powered the Hurricanes to a 4-3 victory over Arkansas in an elimination game at the 2015 College World Series.
The team’s nine-hole hitter connected on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, sending his teammates into a frenzied celebration and extending the Hurricanes’ season at least until Wednesday night.
LISTEN: Jacob Heyward's game winner
Heyward added a two-run home run in a 3-for-3, three-RBI performance, clinching Miami's 20th 50-win season in history and first such year since 2008.
“That would be Mr. Heyward,” Morris joked. “Goodness gracious. He had an unbelievable day from the two-run homer to everything.”
Heyward, who has started the past 15 games in left field after serving as a late defensive replacement for the majority of the regular season, reached base four times, none more important than his game-winning single to center off top Arkansas reliever Zach Jackson.
“It's a blessing to be here at the College World Series with my teammates, and just playing hard for my teammates,” Heyward said. “I wasn't playing the start of the year and I just appreciate Coach [Morris] for having faith in me and all my teammates having faith in me.”
Morris recalled a conversation with Heyward earlier in the season that resonated after the game.
“I called him in just to talk to him and make sure that he understood I still believed in him, to keep his head up because he wasn't playing,” Morris said. “And his response was, ‘You don't worry about me, Coach.’
“He said, ‘I'll be there to play when you call my name.’”
Heyward held true to his word, leading Miami to its first CWS win since 2008. His RBI single in the ninth scored pinch runner Carl Chester, who entered after sophomore Willie Abreu opened the inning with a double.
“I've been missing workouts, honestly,” Abreu said with a smile when asked if he thought his double might clear the fence. “No, I'm kidding…I feel like I just wanted to get a good swing on the ball, be able to get on base and be able to do something for my team.
The two teams traded runs in the late innings, with Miami jumping out to leads of 2-0 and 3-2. Arkansas tied the game on both occasions, and threatened to go ahead in the ninth before Bryan Garcia (6-2) shut the door on a bases-loaded situation.
“I want to congratulate Arkansas on their season. They did a great job every inning coming back…kept answering back,” Morris said. “That's a credit to a good team. They kept battling. You could see why they won and why they're in the World Series.”
The win propels the Hurricanes to face off once again against the Florida Gators tonight at 8 PM on ESPN. Here's the deal, U guys bring the beer and the brats, RaizeCane and I will bring the babes!