OMAHA (CBSMiami/AP) — If the Miami Hurricanes are going to make a run at winning the College World Series, they’ll likely need contributions from unlikely sources.
Jacob Heyward is making up for lost time.
The Miami sophomore on Monday turned in the best individual performance so far in the College World Series, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning to open the scoring and singling in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-3 victory over Arkansas.
The younger brother of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward couldn’t even crack the lineup until the last month. He saw spot duty in 24 games as a freshman started only three of the first 34 games this season. He didn’t become the Hurricanes’ regular left fielder until 16 games ago.
“He has the tools to be a good player. He has great genes. Everybody in his family does,” coach Jim Morris said. “I called him in to talk to him to make sure he understood I still believed in him and to keep your head up when you’re not playing.
“He said, ‘Don’t worry about it, Coach. I’ll be there when you call my name.’ He got his first chance to play and got a couple hits, and he stayed in. He’s a guy who can win a game for you with a home run or steal a base. He’s worked hard to get where he’s at.”
Heyward bats in the No. 9 hole and has reached base in six of his eight plate appearances in Omaha. He’s batting .400 (22 of 55) with two homers and 16 RBIs in the last 16 games.
“Everything is going to be the way you want it to be,” Heyward said. “There were things we had to do to make us a better team, and it wasn’t my time to be in there. I had to stay patient and understand my time would come. I love my teammates, I love the University of Miami, I love my coaches. We go to college to get better as baseball players. Stay patient and have fun.”
The Hurricanes’ next game comes on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. as they’ll have a rematch against in-state rival Florida. The Gators defeated the Canes 15-3 in Omaha on Saturday, sending Miami to the losers bracket.
Florida lost 1-0 to Virginia on Monday to force the rematch.
SINKING TITANS: Cal State Fullerton has struggled in the CWS since winning the 2004 championship. The Titans have lost seven of their last nine games in Omaha, including six straight and their last four CWS openers.
Their 4-3 walk-off loss to Vanderbilt on Monday marked the first time the Titans had blown a three-run lead this season and their first loss in 35 games that they’ve led after eight innings.
BALK TALK: Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer, the No. 8 overall draft pick by the Chicago White Sox, has the dubious distinction of owning a share of the lead for career CWS balks.
He balked twice last year and again in the third inning Sunday against Cal State Fullerton. Others who balked three times in the CWS were Northern Colorado’s Frank Carbajal (1959-60) and Rice’s Cole St. Clair (2006-08).
SHORT HOPS: You only have to go back to last year to find the last time consecutive CWS games were won in walk-off fashion. Mississippi did it against Texas Tech, 2-1, and Virginia did it against TCU, 3-2 in 15 innings, last June 17 … Vanderbilt became the first team in 71 games to win at the CWS when trailing entering the ninth inning … There were five home runs in the first five CWS games. That’s two more than there were in 16 games last year.
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