Sophomore Carl Chester capped a three-hit day with the go-ahead single in the top of the 11th inning, as the No. 1 seed Hurricanes topped No. 3 seed Long Beach State 4-3 in a winners’ bracket game at the NCAA Coral Gables Regional.
Miami (47-11) was one strike away from securing a place in the Coral Gables Regional Championship Game two innings earlier, but an unlikely, pinch-hit home run by Dirtbags infielder Jeff Nellis with two outs in the bottom of the ninth forced extra innings.
Chester’s single to left off LBSU reliever Austin McGeorge was just the second two-out hit of the night for the Hurricanes, and scored junior Jacob Heyward to put Miami ahead. Heyward walked to open the 11th, took second on a sacrifice bunt, and then beat the throw from left fielder Garrett Nelson, sliding in safe at home and sending 2,530 fans into an early celebration.
Freshman Andrew Cabezas (3-1) tossed the game’s final 1.2 innings, needing just 23 pitches to finish off the win.
LBSU plays FAU in an elimination game Sunday at 1 p.m. The Hurricanes will play the winner of that game Sunday night at 7 p.m. with a chance to advance to the NCAA Super Regional round for the second straight season.
Squaring off against 2016 Big West Pitcher of the Year Darren McCaughan of LBSU, Miami All-ACC lefthander Michael Mediavilla delivered a seven-inning, 104-pitch gem.
Mediavilla proved himself a worthy competitor to McCaughan, as he scattered seven hits and allowed just two runs in one of his strongest outings of the season.
The Hurricanes trailed for the early parts of the game and didn’t take their first lead until the seventh inning, when a botched defensive play by the Dirtbags (37-21) put Miami ahead 3-2.
Freshman Frankie Bartow pitched a scoreless eighth before the late dramatics from Nellis.