Hurricanes eliminate Ragin’ Cajuns at Coral Gables Regional
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Yohandy Morales had four hits – including a pair of solo home runs late – while Miami’s Alejandro Rosario scattered seven hits over six innings of work to lead the No. 8-ranked Hurricanes to an 8-5 win over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in the NCAA Coral Gables Regional on Sunday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
Blake Cyr added a three-run home run in the first inning for Miami (42-20) while Jacoby Long hit one of two solo homers in the ninth.
The Hurricanes advanced to face unbeaten Texas in the Regional final Sunday evening needing two wins to reach next week’s Super Regional. Louisiana, which never backed down against one of college baseball’s “Blue Blood” programs, concluded its season at 41-24 overall.
“It’s just a hard team to let go of,” head coach Matt Deggs said. “They’re family, and they’ve changed my life and my family over the last two years. And they’ve changed the trajectory of this program. I came into today with a heart of gratitude and thankfulness, and that’s the way I’m gonna leave.
“Because I can tell you this, they didn’t hold anything back. They never flinched, they never backed up. They just kept coming, kept moving forward. And we just weren’t able to finish it. There’s not another group I’d go to battle with, I can promise you that.”
Miami took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Cyr lifted his 17th home run of the season off Louisiana starter Blake Marshall (3-2). The Hurricanes got a walk by Edgardo Villegas before Morales, who finished 4-for-5 with three RBI hit an opposite-field single to right.
Louisiana, which outhit the Hurricanes, 11-9, chipped away at the lead scoring runs in both the second and third to get to within 3-2.
Conor Higgs led off the second when he reached on Cyr’s bad throw to first before moving to second on John Taylor’s single to left. After Rosario fanned Caleb Stelly for the second out, CJ Willis hit the first pitch for a single up the middle and allowing Higgs to score and cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Ragin’ Cajuns added their second run one inning later after Carson Roccaforte laced a one-out single to right before Heath Hood executed a perfect hit-and-run with a single through the right side and allowing Roccaforte to reach third.
Rosario would uncork a wild pitch, which allowed Roccaforte to score and Hood to advance to third, but the right-hander would get a strikeout and grounder to end the inning and prevent Louisiana from tying the game.
Morales helped Miami take a 5-2 lead in the fifth after his hard-hit single to left plated CJ Kayfus and Villegas, but Louisiana would answer with a pair of runs to close the gap to one-run for the second time.
Roccaforte, whose 26th double of the season in the first inning broke the school record (25) previously held by Kevin Meyers, singled up the middle after Kyle DeBarge was hit by a pitch with one out.
Hood, who finished 4-for-5 at the plate, then singled up the middle to drive in DeBarge before Higgs’ RBI grounder to first allowed Roccaforte to score from third.
Morales gave the Hurricanes a 6-4 lead in the seventh with a solo home run off Cooper Rawls before adding an insurance run in the ninth with a solo blast to left.
Stelly, making his second straight start at designated hitter, recorded his first career home run with a solo blast in the eighth inning off All-America closer Andrew Walters and the Ragin’ Cajuns would threaten in the ninth before Walters got a called third strike to end the game after Louisiana had the tying run at the plate.
Rosario (5-6) struck out seven and allowed seven hits in a career-best, 114-pitch performance for Miami before Walters pitched the final three innings and scattered four hits with four strikeouts.
Marshall, making his first career start for the Ragin’ Cajuns, allowed three hits and fanned three in 1.2 innings of work before being relieved by David Christie in the second. Christie struck out four batters in 2.1 innings for Louisiana with Rawls fanning two in 2.2 innings and JT Etheridge a pair in 2.1 innings on the mound.
Roccaforte finished 3-for-5 and scored twice for Louisiana with Taylor going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
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2023 NCAA CORAL GABLES REGIONAL – GAME 5 QUOTE SHEET
MIAMI 8, LOUISIANA 5
Miami head coach Gino DiMare
“Well, that team is a good team. They battle hard, they play hard. We knew that coming in. It was going to be a battle all the way through and they showed that and fought at the end. It’s a good thing we got some insurance runs ourselves there. The bottom line is I’m proud of our guys, but we got to move forward now and get ready for Texas. That game is over. We did what we needed to do. Now, we got to get ready for Texas.”
Miami infielder Yohandy Morales
On his second home run of the game…
“I felt good giving some cushion for ‘Walt’ [Andrew Walters]. Walt can pitch with one run, two runs, it doesn’t matter. But giving him the extra run, I feel like really helped him because they had first and third and you never know what could happen after that. They were the home team. So, it felt good getting the job done and moving on to the next game.”
Miami starting pitcher Alejandro Rosario
On his performance Sunday afternoon…
“I felt good. It also helps having a good team behind you, having a good defense behind you. It’s never the plan when we score to give up runs after, but we have a good team that bounces back really good. So, it helps.”
Louisiana head coach Matt Deggs
“It’s just a hard team to let go of. They’re family, and they’ve changed my life and my family over the last two years. And they’ve changed the trajectory of this program. I came into today with a heart of gratitude and thankfulness, and that’s the way I’m gonna leave. Because I can tell you this, they didn’t hold anything back. They never flinched, they never backed up. They just kept coming, kept moving forward. And we just weren’t able to finish it. There’s not another group I’d go to battle with, I can promise you that. I’m blessed at an amazing, amazing place with the best fans in America. I mean, how many schools can say their fans travel all the way to the East Coast like we did? They just don’t stop. The people of Lafayette don’t stop and this University certainly doesn’t. We’ll be back, we’ll be back. We’ll be back, but I’m gonna miss these guys. That was one hell of a ballgame. And I just thank God that He gave us the spirit that He gave us and this team because there is no back-up or quit in us. And I just give Him all the glory and honor. I’m just proud to be here.”
Louisiana outfielder Heath Hood
On his approach against Miami starter Alejandro Rosario…
“The approach is get above the fastball, stay in the middle of the field. He threw a lot of strikes, so trying not to get behind in counts, get a good pitch early and bang it.”
Louisiana pitcher Cooper Rawls
On his approach against Miami infielder Yohandy Morales…
“Just try to tie him up. The ball he hit out on me just wasn’t in enough and he was able to get extended and the rest is history. But, against him just especially, get him tied up, don’t let him get extended. He’s a great player, we know that. And just attack him at the same time, don’t be afraid to go at him. Obviously, he had a great day, but I think just keeping attacking him and don’t show no quit. I think that was the biggest thing.”
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