The challenge was in front of the University of Miami baseball team. The challenge of reversing the history of this team that had not won a Super Regional on the road since Super Regional play began seven years ago.
The challenge of facing the best starting pitching in the country. The challenge of going into the hostile environment of Lincoln, Nebraska, just 50 miles from the final destination, Omaha and the College World Series.
The ‘Canes will go to Omaha, but only to catch a flight from there back to Miami as Nebraska swept the ‘Canes 2-0 with a 6-3 win Saturday afternoon in the Lincoln Super Regional.
The ‘Canes season ended at 41-19-1, a very disappointing end to what started off as a sensational season that saw Miami with a 38-12-1 record with four games left in the regular season only to drop the final four and be knocked out of the ACC Tournament in two games.
UM headed into the Coral Gables Regional having seen their bats go into a deep slumber, but woke up enough to end SEC Champion Mississippi State's season.
They went back to sleep in Lincoln.
Behind another dominating performance on the mound, Freshman All-American Johnny Dorn pitched 6.1 innings allowing just one run, a Jon Jay home run in the fourth, his first of the season, and five hits.
But by that point, the ‘Huskers had already built a 5-0 lead when Jay got UM on the scoreboard.
UM starter Brandon Camardese was shelled going only 2.1 innings. He gave up five runs, six hits and walked three, putting the ‘Canes in a hole they couldn't climb out of against Dorn.
It might have been better to stick with the game plan and start sophomore Ricky Orta because he came in for Camardese and totally shut the ‘Huskers down. Orta, the loan bright spot for the ‘Canes, pitched 4.2 innings of no-hit ball.
The ‘Canes offense could not chip away remaining anemic throughout 18 innings against Nebraska.
Nebraska wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard. Third baseman Alex Gordon followed Joe Simokaitis' one-out soft single in the first inning with a bomb to center field off a 1-0 pitch from Camardese to take a 2-0 lead.
Simokaitis increased the Nebraska lead to 3-0 with a solo home run to left field to lead off the third inning. Camardese loaded the bases with walks to Gordon and Daniel Bruce, and a single to Andy Gerch. Ryan Bohanan knocked Camardese out of the game with a two-run double to put Nebraska up, 5-0.
But even when the ‘Canes had opportunities to get back into the game, they found a way to screw it up, whether it be the inability to get a hit with a runner in scoring position or score a runner from third with less than one out.
Down 5-1 in the sixth, Danny Figueroa led off with a walk. He advanced to second after a fly ball by Paco Figueroa when the Dorn and ‘Huskers second baseman Ryan Wehrle fell asleep having a conference on the mound without calling time.
Ryan Braun was unable to play Figueroa when he grounded to third and Jay could not plate him either with a two-out hit.
In the seventh, Danny Valencia led off with a single. Brendan Katin popped to the catcher, but rather than run to first, he stood around in the batter's box watching the ball fly in the air. The wind pushed the ball back into fair play and ‘Huskers catch Jeff Christy lost track of it.
Because Katin didn't run when Christy tried to back track into the field of play to catch the ball Katin was there, finally deciding to run to first. The ball fell to the ground in fair play. Katin and Christy didn't make any contact, but the home plate umpire called interference on Katin and ruled him out and Valencia was sent back to first.
Eddy Rodriguez followed with a single pinch hitter Alex Garabedian walked off reliever Brian Duensing to load the bases with one out.
Walter Diaz flied out deep enough to right that should have scored Valencia, but he got a terrible break off third and was tagged out at home for a double play.
The ‘Canes threatened again in the eighth finally cracking the scoreboard when Danny Figueroa led off with walk and Paco drove him in with a double to left. Braun followed with a double to left and Paco scored cutting the lead to 6-3. Jay pushed Braun to third and once again, the ‘Canes failed to plate a runner at third with less than two outs when Valencia popped to the catcher and Katin flew out to center.
Brett Jansen closed the ‘Canes season out in the ninth when he struck Diaz out looking and sent the ‘Canes packing for home with the challenge not even close to being met.
Canes End Season With Loss to Nebraska, 6-3
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