Miami’s Willie Abreu connected for a ninth inning grand slam to lift the No. 5 Hurricanes to an 8-4 walk-off win against the No. 4 Louisville baseball team in Friday night’s series-opener at Alex Rodriguez Park.
With the bases loaded and one out in a tie game at 4-4, Abreu sent the first pitch he saw from Cardinals junior righty Zack Burdi over the right field wall for his second homer of the night. The junior outfielder was 2-for-4 in the game with seven RBI on a three-homer in the second inning and the grand slam in the ninth. The win was also the 1,500th victory as an NCAA Division I head coach for Miami’s Jim Morris.
The loss halted the 10-game winning streak for the Cardinals (15-3, 3-1 ACC), while the Hurricanes (15-3, 3-1 ACC) won their fourth straight after scoring the final five runs of the game. Sophomore third baseman Blake Tiberi led the way for Louisville finishing 2-for-3 with a home run and scored twice, while junior catcher Will Smith was 3-for-3. Sophomore shortstop Devin Hairston added a double and two RBI and junior outfielder Corey Ray chipped in with a solo home run.
Louisville struck first on Friday night when Ray launched his sixth home run of the season, an opposite field shot off the scoreboard in left field to open the game. It was third time this season Ray has connected for a homer in the first inning while improving to 9-for-17 with eight runs scored in the opening inning in 2016.
An inning later, the Cardinals extended their advantage to 2-0 on a RBI double to right field by Hairston to score Tiberi. The scoring chance started with a one-out single to left field by Tiberi, who moved to second on a single to left by Smith before Hairston’s sixth double of the season.
The Hurricanes answered in the bottom of the second as Abreu connected for a three-run home run to right field to plate Johnny Ruiz and Brandon Lopez. Ruiz started things for Miami with a one-out single to right center, while Lopez followed with a single through the left side before Abreu scored both with his third home run of the season on a 1-1 pitch from Louisville senior righty Kyle Funkhouser.
Louisville found the equalizer in the fourth inning when Tiberi crushed a 1-1 offering from Miami lefty starter Thomas Woodrey sending it into the tops of the palm trees beyond wall in right center. It was the third home run of the season for Tiberi, who also registered his team-leading 11th multiple-hit game of the year with the solo shot.
The Cardinals move back ahead in the sixth inning at 4-3 on a RBI sacrifice fly to center by Hairston to score sophomore Brendan McKay. McKay led off the inning with a single to center and advanced to second on a walk to senior first baseman Danny Rosenbaum. After sacrifice bunt moved him to third, McKay scored easily on the deep flyball to center for Hairston’s second RBI of the night.
Miami pulled even at 4-4 in the eighth inning after Carl Chester drove in Brandon Lopez with a two-out RBI single to left. Lopez led off the inning with a shallow popup to right field that caromed off of Ray, who made a sliding attempt at a catch but was charged with an error. After advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt against Cardinals junior righty Jake Sparger, Lopez scored without a throw when Chester sent a 0-1 offering from Burdi into left field.
The decisive ninth inning started with a single to lefty by Miami catcher Zack Collins, who moved to second on an infield single by Jacob Heyward. Ruiz followed with a bunt single to third to load the bases with no outs. After Burdi recorded the first out of the inning with a backhand stop on a liner off the bat of Lopez, Abreu ended the game with his blast.
Burdi was charged with the loss and dropped to 1-1 on the season after allowing four runs on five hits in one inning of relief. Bryan Garcia earned the win for the Hurricanes and moved to 1-0 on the season after pitching a perfect top of the ninth inning with two strikeouts.
The Cardinals and Hurricanes continue their series Saturday at 8 p.m., ET on ESPNU, while Sunday’s finale is set for 2:30 p.m., on ESPNU.
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