By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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By Kyle Swenson
Sure enough, FSU's first two batters hit singles. Said Rotolante: "Thank God we're up by five runs."
Not for long. Two ground outs brought home a run, and after giving up two more singles, Gutierrez took no chances with national player of the year Buster Posey. He walked the .463 hitter. Miami's lead was down to 7-5, and the bases were loaded with two outs. Thundering over the TV speakers was an ominous chant from the fans at Rosenblatt Stadium: "Let's go Noles! Let's go Noles!"
Sandbar was pretty much empty except for a small knot of increasingly nervous patrons seated at a table near the bar. Posey led off first base, representing the go-ahead run. But just as the Seminoles seemed poised to take the lead, Jack Rye tapped a grounder to Weeks at second for the final out of the game. Florida State's season was over. Miami moved on. The Canes will play Stanford on Wednesday.
Rotolante raised his arms triumphantly and then turned and headed for the patio. The back of his bright orange UM T-shirt read, "We've never lost a party."
The Hurricanes, alas, have a long way to go before they can celebrate. They must defeat Stanford and then win two more games just to remain in contention. After everyone else has been eliminated, the two finalists meet in a best-two-out-of-three championship series for the NCAA title. Essentially the Canes have become long shots after entering the tournament as favorites.
But hope has not been abandoned. Said Rotolante: "There's a difference with this team." As to the nature of that difference, the 1997 UM graduate didn't say. History will be the judge of that.