Commentary

Stanford got hot, Miami was not, and the Hurricanes go home

Originally Published: June 19, 2008
By Curt McKeever | Special to ESPN.com

OMAHA, Neb. -- At the end, Miami's multi-talented, top-ranked baseball team looked just like its coach Wednesday night at the College World Series.

Sapped by the flu.

The Hurricanes -- with three players who were selected in the first round of the Major League draft earlier this month, and three others that got taken before the fifth round -- got handcuffed by three unheralded Stanford pitchers and eliminated by the Cardinal 8-3 in Rosenblatt Stadium.

Since the NCAA went in 1999 to its current format of seeding the top eight teams entering the postseason tournament, Miami's 1999 club is the only No. 1 seed to win the championship.

"We had everything that you need in a good ball club," junior right fielder Dennis Raben said. "We had good pitching, a good bullpen. Offense and defense. We just weren't hot out here."

The Hurricanes got off to an encouraging start against right-handed freshman Danny Sandbrink, as Blake Tekotte and Jemile Weeks both reached on infield hits that would eventually produce a run.

But Sandbrink would yield nothing else before giving way to right-handed senior Erick Davis in the fifth inning. By then, the Cardinal led 3-1, and Sean Ratliff's 22nd homer of the season in the bottom half would ignite a game-breaking four-run outburst.

Miami entered the Series with a .322 team batting average, but in three games here hit just .276.

What's more, the 'Canes were just 5-for-32 (.156) with runners in scoring position.

"We really hadn't been hot at the end," Jim Morris said of a club that won 53 games to tie for the most in his 15 seasons at Miami. In the middle of the season I felt like we could beat anybody at any time.

"... We didn't get it going out here. The team that wins out here is not necessarily the best club, it's the team that gets hot."

Stanford is one of two teams that made it to Omaha minus a top-eight national seed. The other, Fresno State, is 2-0 in the other bracket and one win from advancing to the championship series. The Bulldogs await the winner of Thursday's North Carolina-LSU contest.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal need to defeat Georgia twice to make the final.

"They outplayed us, really, in every phase," Morris said. "They've gotten here by beating really good people, so no question in my mind they'll be [in] a battle."

Curt McKeever is a reporter for the Lincoln Journal Star.