With their seasons on the line, the University of Florida and University of Miami will square off Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) in an elimination game in Omaha, Nebraska, at the College World Series.
After getting romped by the Gators, 15-3, thanks to an 11-run fourth inning back on June 13, the Hurricanes found themselves on the brink of elimination in a losers' bracket tilt against the University of Arkansas.
However, some walk-off heroics from Jacob Heyward on Monday night helped propel Miami to a 4-3 victory over Arkansas to keep its season alive and set up another intrastate tilt between the Florida schools, something Heyward is looking forward to, according to the Miami Herald's George Richards:
I'm excited we got the win, excited we're not going home. We're very confident in ourselves. In the last game against Florida, we had 11 hits. We had six or seven balls hit right at people. If those fall, maybe it's a different game. We had the one bad inning. If we play solid, swing the bat, we can win this game.
Now it's up to Heyward—the younger brother of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward—to keep Miami's hopes alive as his team eyes a berth in the championship series.
"Heyward raised his average to .340 on Monday, second among Miami regulars," ESPN.com's Mitch Sherman wrote. "He's started 21 games this year, including 16 straight, hitting .400 (22-for-55) over that stretch with 17 RBIs."
His hot bat should give Miami hope, but displays of resiliency during conference tournament play suggest Florida is in a favorable spot entering Wednesday night's do-or-die tilt.
"It's good to know we're not out of it because we've done it before,'' Florida second baseman Dalton Guthrie said, according to GatorZone.com's Scott Carter. "We've won big games against good teams consecutively, so we don't think we're out of it. We've got to win three games to get into the championship series, so we plan on making it happen."
After topping 10 runs in both Super Regional games against Florida State and pouring it on in their first meeting against Miami, the Gators bats fell silent against a stingy Virginia squad. The Cavaliers two-hit Florida and avoided participation in the elimination clash. The 1-0 loss was just the third time all season Florida was shut out.
But Wednesday night, there should be exponentially more fireworks.
This season, Miami and Florida rank seventh (.310) and 29th (.297), respectively, in batting average. Furthermore, the Hurricanes and Gators have walloped 63 and 60 home runs, respectively.
On the mound, Miami will put the ball in Enrique Sosa's hand. The junior is 7-4 so far this season, but his one regular-season appearance against the Gators resulted in a 2-1 loss. That said, Sosa did well to keep Florida in check, spreading out two runs over six innings of work.
The Gators will counter with freshman Alex Faedo, who's gone 5-1 with a 3.36 ERA during his inaugural collegiate season. However, Faedo has allowed a team-high nine dingers while striking out 52 and walking 12 throughout a relatively successful campaign.
While Miami did well to avoid elimination Monday evening, Florida's track record—and recent clobbering of the Hurricanes—can't be denied. Another sterling showing from Heyward could tip the scales in Miami's favor, but with a chance to gain revenge against Virginia at stake, look for Florida to come out with an extra edge and sneak out a high-scoring victory.
Prediction: Florida 7, Miami 5