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No. 22 Miami Walks Off Penn State, 3-2

No. 22 Miami Walks Off Penn State, 3-2

by Josh White

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami Hurricanes first baseman CJ Kayfus was frustrated.

The 2022 Hurricanes MVP picked up just one hit across his first 10 at-bats in 2023.

But after a pep-talk from junior catcher Jack Scanlon, Kayfus quickly became the Hurricanes’ hero Sunday afternoon.

Kayfus delivered a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting No. 22 Miami to a 3-2 win over Penn State at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.

“I was struggling early on in the game,” said Kayfus. “He pulled me aside and said, ‘I believe in you, and you’re going to win this game for us.’ It was the craziest thing ever, but I owe it all to him.”

Added Miami head coach Gino DiMare, “CJ hadn’t had a good series. You could see he was frustrated. I’m sure glad Jack had a talk with him. We need to hire Jack as one of our assistant coaches.”

After dropping the season opener, the Hurricanes (2-1) bounced back to secure the series over the Nittany Lions (1-2) in dramatic fashion.

With Miami down to its final out, sophomore outfielder Edgardo Villegas singled to center field, bringing Kayfus to the dish.

The sweet-swinging Kayfus clobbered a first-pitch change-up and deposited it 405 feet away into the Ponce Parking Garage in right field, sending Mark Light Field into a frenzy.

“There was no doubt we were going to come back,” said Kayfus, following his second career walk-off hit. “There is no time limit in baseball. That was pretty special.”

The junior was bestowed a Gatorade bath at home plate in the joyous celebration, but he was far from the only star in Sunday’s come-from-behind win.

Rookies Chris Scinta, Blake Cyr and Brian Walters also shined for the Hurricanes.

The left-handed Scinta entered with two runners on and no out in the sixth before eventually stranding the bases loaded with a strikeout.

In the bottom half, Cyr, who recorded his first collegiate hit earlier in the game, provided an RBI single to cut the Penn State lead to 2-1.

“I’ve never been a part of any circumstance like that,” said Cyr. “That was probably the most surreal moment I’ve had of my baseball career yet. What a great way to start at the University of Miami.”

Walters replaced Scinta in the seventh and struck out back-to-back hitters to end the frame, before his older brother, Andrew Walters, punched out five across two scoreless innings.

“Our guys never quit,” DiMare said. “Proud of our guys for fighting back and being able to pull through to get the victory and win the series today.”

The elder Walters earned his first win of the season, while Penn state reliever Steven Miller was tagged with the loss.

Up next, the Hurricanes host the Stetson Hatters Tuesday in their first midweek contest of the year. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

“Coming back Saturday and today can really boost the morale of the team,” Kayfus said. “I think we’re going to carry this into our next game on Tuesday.”