Heyward comes through in starring role for Miami

OMAHA, Neb. -- The name is familiar, and so is his swing, which bears a resemblance from the right side to his brother's picturesque left-handed approach, but Miami outfielder Jacob Heyward labored for most of his first two college seasons under the weight of lofty expectations.

On Monday night, he broke out in a big way at the College World Series.

Heyward delivered a walk-off single in the Hurricanes' 4-3 elimination-game win over Arkansas, a laser to left-center field with none out in the ninth inning off closer Zach Jackson to score pinch-runner Carl Chester.

The younger brother of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward, Jacob finished 3-for-3 in his second CWS game, scoring two runs -- and he mashed a two-run homer to unlock a scoreless game with two outs in the fifth inning.

All three times the score was tied, Heyward put the Hurricanes ahead.

"That would be Mr. Heyward," Miami coach Jim Morris said at the open of his postgame media conference.

"Goodness gracious. He had an unbelievable day."

The sophomore left fielder, batting ninth in the lineup, walked in his first at-bat to give Miami its first baserunner against Arkansas starter Keaton McKinney. In the seventh, Heyward singled with one out and stole second, then rounded third on a throwing error by Arkansas shortstop Michael Bernal to give the Canes a 3-2 lead.

"It looked like he was seeing a beach ball out there," Arkansas left fielder Joe Serrano said.

It hasn't always come so easily for Heyward, though. He hit .205 as a freshman last year out of McDonough, Georgia, and struggled early this season.

Morris said he grew concerned, knowing that Heyward possessed the bloodlines and the skill level to contribute. Morris assured Heyward that he had not lost the confidence of his veteran coach.

"His response was: 'You don't worry about me, coach,'" Morris said. "He goes, 'I'll be there to play when you call my name.' And to be honest with you, when he got his first chance to play, he got a couple of hits and stayed in there, got a couple more hits. And all of a sudden, he's a guy that can win the game for you."

Heyward raised his average to .340 on Monday, second among Miami regulars. He's started 21 games this year, including 16 straight, hitting .400 (22-for-55) over that stretch with 17 RBIs.

"Everything's not going to be the way you want it to be," Heyward said. "There's things we had to do for this team to be a better team. And it wasn't my time to be there. So I just felt like all I had to do was work hard and be patient and understand that my time was going to come."

His time came. Heyward saved Miami from elimination Monday in Omaha.

"To see him succeed like this, it's just a blessing," said Willie Abreu, an outfielder and fellow sophomore who doubled to open the ninth and was removed for the pinch-runner Chester. "It gives me goosebumps."

Heyward is likely not finished. In fact, he may just have started to realize his potential. In eight NCAA postseason games this year, he's hitting .407 with nine RBIs.

"We go to college to get better as baseball players," Heyward said. "It's all about playing. You can take your time, work, do all the things you have to do and just stay patient and have fun."