UM star Morales’ 3 HRs lead Canes to comeback regional win

Miami Hurricanes infielder Yohandy Morales (35) reacts toward the dugout as he circles the bases after hitting his third home run of the game during the seventh inning of the Coral Gables NCAA baseball regional game against the Canisius Golden Griffins at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Florida, Saturday, June 4, 2022.

Miami Hurricanes infielder Yohandy Morales (35) reacts toward the dugout as he circles the bases after hitting his third home run of the game during the seventh inning of the Coral Gables NCAA baseball regional game against the Canisius Golden Griffins at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Florida, Saturday, June 4, 2022.

Special for the Miami Herald

A little deluge never intimidated Yohandy Morales.

Miami baseball not only survived a storm that pounded South Florida with torrential rain, 30-mile-an-hour gusts and plenty of flooding, it also survived a tiny, private Jesuit School from Buffalo, NY on Saturday night with a come-from- behind 11-6 victory over Canisius College in the Coral Gables Regional opener.

Led by Yohandy Morales’ three home runs and 5-RBI night, the No. 6 national seed Hurricanes overcame an early 4-1 deficit to advance to the winners’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament that was postponed a day because of the weather deluge.

UM (40-18) will meet the winner of Saturday’s late game between No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 3 seed Ole Miss on Sunday at a time that had not immediately been announced at game’s end.

no. 4 seed Canisius (29-24) will meet the loser of the late Saturday game on Sunday in an elimination game.

Morales’ three-homer feat at Mark Light Field marked the first time a Miami player has hit three home runs in one game since 2015. His first home run to right field in the first inning cut the Canisius lead to 2-1. His second home run, a two-run blast to center that scored CJ Kayfus (single), cut the deficit to 4-3. Two batters later, Jacob Burke’s homer to center tied it at 4-4.

Morales’ third homer, again to center, scored Kayfus (single) in the seventh, followed by Dorian Gonzalez’s 2-RBI single for a four-run frame that gave UM an 8-4 cushion, made even cushier with three unearned runs in the eighth.

Canes ace closer Matt Walters replaced reliever Alex McFarlane with one out in the eighth to eventually earn his 14th save. Right-handed freshman reliever Gage Ziehl (2-2, 3.86 ERA), the fourth of six UM pitchers Saturday, allowed one hit in two innings for the victory.

Canisius reliever Tom Peltier allowed four earned runs on three hits and a walk in only a third of an inning to take the loss.

UM’s right-handed freshman starter Karson Ligon, who came into the game with three consecutive losses, was immediately pummeled by the Grifs. Ligon allowed four earned runs on six hits in his 1 1/3 innings before being replaced by Ronaldo Gallo.

The UM game originally was scheduled for noon Friday and then rescheduled for 10 am Friday and again for noon Saturday. The tarp was removed from the field by 2 pm Saturday — then put back on the field before 5 pm Finally, at 5:30 pm, postseason baseball began for the Hurricanes.

The weekend’s double-elimination event is one of 16 four-team regionals around the nation, with each winner advancing to eight super regionals June 10-13. The eight super regional winners earn berths at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Because the Hurricanes earned one of the top eight seeds in the tournament, Miami should win its regional, it would host the best-of-three-game super regional. UM’s opponent would be the winner of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, regional that includes No. 11 national seed host/No. 1 regional seed Southern Mississippi (43-16), No. 2 regional seed LSU (38-20), No. 3 regional seed Kennesaw State (35-26) and No. 4 Regional Seed Army (31-23).

As the games in UM’s regional go further into the week, that would obviously take a toll on the winning pitching staff for the super regional.

This story will be updated.

This story was originally published June 4, 2022 9:09 PM.

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.

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