Yohandy Morales had a career game in Miami’s first home postseason game since 2016. Morales hit three home runs and didn’t make an out on Saturday as the Hurricanes defeated Canisius 11-6 to advance to the winners' bracket of the Coral Gables Regional.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Miami on Saturday. Canisius got out to an early lead. Back-to-back singles opened the evening for the fourth seed in the regional, and a double and a fielder’s choice scored two runs to put Canisius on the path toward an upset.
Morales’ first home run in the bottom of the first inning got a run back for Miami, but Canisius forced the Hurricanes' starting pitcher, Karson Ligon, out of the game in the second inning. A one-out solo home run reextended the lead to two for the MAAC Champions, and after a walk and a single followed the home run Ronaldo Gallo entered the game for Miami. Gallo allowed an RBI single to the first batter he faced to make it 4-1, and the bases were eventually loaded, but the Hurricanes got out of the inning trailing by three.
The No.6 national seed didn’t take long to respond. CJ Kayfus led off the bottom of the third inning with a single, and Morales hit his second home run in as many at-bats to make it a one-run game. Jacob Burke followed one out later with a solo home run that tied up the game at 4-4 after a dramatic first three innings.
Miami’s bullpen was dominant after the game was tied up, with Gallo, Alejandro Torres, and Gage Ziehl combining for 5.2 scoreless innings to keep the game tied. The Hurricanes gave their pitching staff some run support in the bottom of the seventh. The blueprint to open the inning was almost exactly the same as in the third inning; CJ Kayfus led off the inning with a single, and a one-out two-run home run from Yohandy Morales, his third of the game, gave Miami their first lead of the afternoon.
The scoring continued after the home run. Maxwell Romero was hit by a pitch immediately after the home run, and a double and a walk loaded the bases. A clutch two-run single from Dorian Gonzalez, playing in his first-ever NCAA Tournament game, gave the Hurricanes an 8-4 lead.
An RBI single in the top of the eighth inning broke the scoreless streak for Miami’s bullpen and made it an 8-5 game. The Hurricanes were forced to go to Andrew Walters out of the bullpen after the run scored, and the All-ACC First Team closer escaped a bases-loaded jam.
Miami added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. A walk, single, and walk loaded the bases, and with two outs an error and a grounder that took a strange hop combined to score three runs for the Hurricanes. Despite the six-run lead, Miami chose to go back to Walters for the ninth inning and the Hurricanes' closer gave up an unearned run but finished the game to advance the Hurricanes to the winners’ bracket.
The Hurricanes will now face the winner of Ole Miss vs Arizona. The schedule for Sunday’s games is not out yet, but the intention may be to play three games instead of the normal two. If that is the case, Miami would need to win on Sunday to avoid a doubleheader and potentially two doubleheaders in two days to advance out of the regional.
Carson Palmquist is scheduled to start for the Hurricanes in the second game of the regional. Miami’s ace will try to advance Miami to 2-0 and put the Hurricanes one win away from advancing to a Super Regional for the first time since 2016.
Winning Pitcher: Gage Ziehl (2-2, 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)
Losing Pitcher: Tom Peltier (3-3, 0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K)
Save: Andrew Walters (14)