DURHAM, N.C. -- Jim Morris has been around college baseball enough long to know it takes more than a star-studded lineup or one dominant pitcher to win in the postseason. It takes something else, too -- luck.
That's exactly what UM had on its side Wednesday in its 8-6 win over Georgia Tech. You don't go 5 1/3 innings without a hit, have the opposing team load the bases twice and still find yourself only down 2-1 in the sixth inning without it. But while a lucky bounce or two can change the outcome of a game, I'm a firm believer you create some of your own luck, too.
And the honest truth is nobody at UM, no coach of any current team, is better at it than Morris. That's not a slight on Randy Shannon or Frank Haith or any of UM's other coaches. It's just the truth. Morris has two rings to prove it.
In my opinion, he just knows how to put his athletes in situations better than anyone else to overachieve, to bounce back, and to orchestrate a little magic.
Morris knew his team needed an emotional lift if it was going to have any chance at defending its crown in this tournament and hosting a regional next week.
So, he rolled the dice against Georgia Tech when he decided to hold ace Chris Hernandez from pitching against ACC Pitcher of The Year, Deck McGuire. The idea: save his ace for Thursday's tough game against the Seminoles and let some guys earn their wings. Maybe, it might just create the fire his team needs to get going.
Somehow, Morris not only had a hunch his trio of freshmen (Travis Miller, Sam Robinson and Danny Miranda) were going to do well against the Yellow Jackets' potent offensive attack, but he knew David Gutierrez, the coldest arm on the team, was due to snap out of his funk. Together, those four pitched seven innings and got an 8-6 lead to closer Kyle Bellamy, who obviously did the rest Wednesday.
The result: Miami won and now Hernandez will pitch against FSU, which already pitched its ace Wednesday. Morris could have played his cards differently. He could have pulled the Johnny Wholestaff against Boston College or FSU. But he didn't because he knew better. And now the Canes still have a chance to really win this tournament.
“I think you could probably say we were rolling the dice,” Morris said. “But, with that said, our bullpen has been pretty good. We’ve had some injuries with our pitching staff and I knew we were going to have to piece together a game somewhere to make it happen. All our guys were fresh. They did a good job at Wake Forest in the same type situation where Miller started. I felt like it was the best opportunity for us to win in this tournament to do that and we came out very fortunate."