“I'm disappointed in the way we played out here in Omaha,” head coach Jim Morris said. “We didn't do the little things that we did all year to win the number of games we did.
"I felt like we had a great season coming into it. But the little things that we've been doing…we didn't hit with on base or make a pitch or make a play defensively that we needed to make to win. And when you get to this level, you've got to do all the things to win, because everybody out here is playing well.”
In the first-ever meeting between the two program, it was the Hurricanes (50-14) who struck first, as junior Zack Collins belted a pitch from UCSB starter Noah Davis over the fence in right field for a solo home run to give Miami a 1-0 lead.
It was the fourth home run of this NCAA postseason for Collins and the sixth of his three-year career.
“Just being aggressive. He threw a fastball 1-0 [in the count], and I was aggressive, put the barrel on it, and it went out,” Collins said. “You never know it's gone in this field, especially with the way the wind's been blowing.”
But the Gauchos (43-19-1) would quickly respond on an RBI single from JJ Muno in the home half of the inning.
With the score tied 1-1 early, junior lefthander Danny Garcia sandwiched two walks around a single to load the bases in the second. He escaped any damage when Clay Fisher grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Garcia (9-5) retired 10 in a row beginning with the groundout from Fisher. The stretch came to an end on a leadoff single from Devon Gradford in the bottom of the sixth.
“I minimized damage, and not even one run scored,” Garcia said of the second-inning jam. “And I just had a mindset of just going up there and dominating and just throwing strikes, competing.”
Immediately after the single by Gradford, play was halted for just over an hour due to lightning.
Garcia returned after the 62-minute delay and induced a popup from UCSB slugger Austin Bush. But Muno doubled down the right field line to prompt a pitching change, and the Gauchos strung together a two-RBI single and back-to-back squeeze plays off reliever Frankie Bartow to take a 5-1 lead.
“You know, playing at Miami, we have quite a few rain delays,” Morris said. “So we're used to handling that, and [pitching coach] J.D. [Arteaga] does a good job of guys throwing.
“[Garcia] got up twice and threw in the cages. And we felt like he was ready to throw…it was kind of after him that's when things went haywire.”
Davis (7-4) tossed six innings for the Gauchos, surrendering just two hits and one run. He struck out three batters and walked two.
Miami staged a late rally in the eighth to cut the deficit to two runs. Facing UCSB reliever Kyle Nelson, redshirt junior Edgar Michelangeli cracked a one-out double into the left field corner to jumpstart the offense.
Back-to-back singles from sophomore Carl Chester and junior Randy Batista pushed the first run of the inning across. Collins then followed with another RBI single to make it 5-3.
But with two outs and runners on the corners, Nelson struck out junior Johnny Ruiz to maintain the Gauchos’ lead.
“I feel like we always have a chance. This team all year has come back from plenty of deficits,” Collins said. “We've come back from more than four runs all year. And we had a chance going into the ninth inning. We were all confident of that. And it just didn't happen.”