Thursday, June 17, 1999 • Box score
Miami's unbeaten run through the NCAA baseball tournament has landed the Hurricanes in the final game of the season.
The Hurricanes advanced to the championship game of the College World Series with Thursday's 5 - 2 victory over Alabama in the Bracket One championship game at Rosenblatt Stadium. The win was Miami's eighth straight in the NCAA tournament as the Hurricanes added a sweep of their bracket in the double-elimination portion of the CWS to their earlier sweeps in regional and super-regional competition.
Miami, seeded No. 1 in the tournament and ranked first and second, improved to 49-13 heading into Saturday's winner-take-all national championship game. The Hurricanes will be trying to win their third national championship in their first title game appearance since 1996, when they lost 9-8 to Louisiana State on Warren Morris' two-run homer on the game's final pitch.
Alabama, ranked seventh and eighth, ended its season at 53-16 after losing for the second time in five days to the Hurricanes.
The first loss came Sunday, when Miami scored an 8-1 victory to take control in Bracket One play. Thursday's loss, before a crowd of 16,303, ended Alabama's comeback hopes, which had been kept alive with a dramatic 6-5 win over Rice on Wednesday.
Miami rode the solid pitching of Darryl Roque, the Hurricanes' No. 3 starter, and an opportunistic offense that featured a three-RBI game for third baseman Lale Esquivel into its title game spot. Roque, a right-hander who has battled injuries throughout his senior season, limited Alabama to four hits and two unearned runs over six innings to improve to 5-1.
Vince Vasquez pitched a scoreless seventh for Miami, and Michael Neu closed out the Crimson Tide in the final two innings to record his 15th save. Neu struck out four of the eight Miami hitters he faced, pitching around a harmless leadoff single by Jeremy Brown and a two-out walk to Antonio Bostic in the ninth.
Alabama mistakes figured into all of Miami's runs as the Hurricanes scored an unearned run in the first, took advantage of a wild pitch by losing pitcher Jonathan Blankenship (10-3) to set up the tying run in the third, and then added the decisive three runs in the fifth when Alabama second baseman Sam Bozanich botched a potential inning-ending double play.
Singles by Greg Lovelady and Bobby Hill had put runners at first and second with one out in the fifth when Brian Seever hit a two-hopper at shortstop Andy Phillips. Phillips fielded the grounder cleanly and flipped to Bozanich, who dropped the ball to leave the bases loaded. Manny Crespo followed with a sacrifice fly to snap the 2-2 tie, and Esquivel's double off the center-field wall brought in Hill and Seever to make it 5-2 and drive Blankenship from the game.
Hill led off the game by drawing a walk and took second when Phillips botched Seever's grounder. A sacrifice by Crespo advanced the runners, and Esquivel's single brought Hill home with Miami's first run. Blankenship worked out of trouble by getting Kevin Brown to fly out and catching Mike Rodriguez looking at strike three.
The Hurricanes tied the game in the third when Brown walked with one out, took second on Blankenship's wild pitch and scored on Rodriguez's single to center field.
Alabama had taken a 2-1 lead in the second off Roque, with both runs also being unearned. With one out, Jeremy Brown reached first base on a throwing error by Esquivel, the Miami third baseman.
Kelley Gulledge tied the game with a double to right-center field and moved to third when Hill, the Miami shortstop, bounced his throw to first in attempting to retire Brent Boyd.
Darren Wood then gave Alabama a 2-1 lead when his sacrifice fly scored Gulledge.
Alabama might have lost a chance to add to its lead when Bozanich opened the third inning with a double but was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple. Roque then retired the next seven hitters before Derek Wigginton snapped the string with a two-out single.