Forgive the untimeliness of this piece.

For The U, the college baseball season came to a crashing thud Wednesday afternoon. After spending countless hours watching games and covering this squad the past few months, it was time for a breather before deciding to sum up what went wrong in a heartbreaking post-season.

That and the sun was shining all weekend, so once the Canes pulled out of Omaha, I did the same. Not worth watching or thinking about as it’d be an excuse to play the ‘what if’ game when there were better things to do.

53-11 and headed home empty-handed. That’s the legacy the Miami Hurricanes leave behind regarding the 2008 season.

Arguably the ‘best’ team The U has ever fielded, Miami tanked in Omaha.

Bats went cold. The defense crapped the bed. Players lost their mojo and the Canes never once resembled the stellar team they were all season.

A 23-loss Stanford squad put two Sunshine State powers in check en route to a 2-1 record at the College World Series. After smacking up Florida State, 16-5 and losing a nailbiter to Georgia, the Cardinal took it to the Canes, 8-3 in a game that was done as soon as Miami took the field.

College baseball is an inexact science. More so than almost any other sport. Stick your rankings, regular season records and statistics all in the trash come mid-June. The 1999 Hurricanes were the only squad to win a title, as a top seed entering the post-season. Since then, nothing but upsets.

As good as Miami looked during the regular season, the chink in the armor was spotted in the regular season finale against North Carolina. The Canes fell 10-6 and 12-11 in the final two games, losing their first series of the season.

Over those final two losses, Miami gave up 22 runs and left 19 runners stranded on base.

Why does that trend sound so familiar?

Sure, Miami breezed through the ACC tourney – but the Canes had to earn every win from that point forward. Gone was the dominant regular season team. Instead, a bunch who could never pull all facets of their game together and play like the champions most expected them to.

A 7-4 scare against lowly Bethune-Cookman (yeah, I know their pitcher was good, but still. A bottom of the eighth rally to best Missouri by 1, followed by an 11-2 beat down of and outmatched and out-manned Ole Miss squad.

Arizona took Miami in game one of the Super Regionals, but the entire series was topsy-turvy and was one swing from being 2-0, 0-2 or the 2-1 advantage the Canes needed to advance to Omaha.

Never once did Miami have Arizona in check, despite a home field advantage, a better record and a stronger, collective squad.

The aura would carry over to Omaha, where Miami played tight out the gate. Gone were the big rallies, hot bats, defensive prowess and a pitching staff that would clamp down and hold off an opponent’s onslaught.

You never want to blame an epic meltdown on one play. That said, when Carlos Gutierrez sailed one past Yonder Alonso in the top of the ninth in game one against Georgia, you could feel the collective wind coming out of Miami’s sails.

The wild pitch on a would-be third strike for the second out – that was bad enough – but to not regroup after that and to literally throw it away moments later? Miami gave away an entire season in half an inning. Tagged in the nose, the Canes recoiled when they tasted their own blood. Instead of coming out swinging, Miami remained tight, tentative and a shell of themselves the final two games in Omaha.

The familiarity and upper hand the Canes have on the Noles helped earn a 7-5 win, though it was almost given away again in the ninth.

1-1 and with a fighting chance, Miami simply face planted against Stanford. A no-show. Never it in for a minute after that 1-0 lead in the first.

The stats? As ugly as they’ve been all season. 10 Canes went down swinging and 12 runners were left on base, after stranding 9 against Florida State and 7 against Georgia.

After three games in Omaha, the Canes’ box score read – 98 at bats, 14 runs, 27 hit and a total of 28 runners left on base, while striking out 24 times.

The middle of the order, ice cold. Mark Sobolewski only mustering up one hit in 12 at bats. Ryan Jackson going 6-for-13 with 0 RBI. Adan Severino, 4-for-9 with 0 runs or RBI.

For all the magic Dennis Raben provided defensively in right field, the mohawked one was a paltry 2-for-11 with 0 runs and 2 RBI and Yasmani Grandal mustered up 2 hits in his 9 at bats.

The top of the order put a few runs on the board, but also remained unclutch when given the opportunity.

Blake Tekotte was 3-for-11, despite 3 runs and 3 RBI. Jemile Weeks hit two home runs, but also went 3-for-11 and struggled to do what he did best – laying down bunts, playing small ball, helping manufacture runs and just getting on base.

Alonso had 5 hits in 12 at bats, but his Omaha legacy will be remembered for chasing breaking balls and striking out three times against the Cardinal, stranding five by the fifth inning.

All season, all signs pointed to this being “Miami’s year” but that was based on regular season wins and the Canes peaking too soon. Come May, Miami went 3-3 down the stretch – losing a sloppy 7-6 contest at Virginia Tech, before the skid against North Carolina.

A far cry from the squad that went 27-2 at one point in 2008.

Omaha and the post-season are a completely different ball game. Just ask Georgia and Fresno State – the two underdogs who found their way to the title game.

The east coast Bulldogs were a #8 seed while the west coast bunch upset a stellar Arizona State team in the Super Regional to earn their berth and get through a bracket including Rice, LSU and North Carolina — two recent past champions and a recent runner up (twice).

Florida State rolls all season and it’s 0-and-2 and a BBQ. For anyone lamenting Miami’s ninth inning heartbreak in game one, it’s hard to top the Noles giving up 11 to the Cardinal over the course of three outs.

LSU rides an almost two dozen-game win streak into the post season and bows out 1-2, just like Miami.

An Omaha-staple like Rice heads back to Texas for a BBQ of their own, after going 0-2.

North Carolina finds a way to upend a red hot LSU team (twice), but can’t solve the mystery of a Fresno State bunch who started the season 8-12, going 1-2 against the Bulldogs over a six-day span?

The only certain in Omaha is that there is no certain. You think you know, but you have no idea.

It’s a funky place where dreams are made, hearts are broken and words like “underdog” or “favorite” have no pull.

When you get to the Midwest, someone has the ‘mojo’ and the others are simply along for the ride. How far they go depends solely on the mercy of the baseball gods.

If there’s a lesson to be learned is this – the college baseball season doesn’t start in January. Come mid-June it’s eight teams at Rosenblatt all sporting 0-0 records and all battled-tested after two rounds of regional action. Favorite-schmavorite. It’s anybody’s ball game.

53-11 – like the 2008 Canes – sure sounds good on paper.

In the end, it was a great run but once the post-season got underway it was soon proven that it simply wasn’t in the cards for Miami this year, despite a hell of a run.

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