Saturday June 12, 2010No. 4 Baseball Edges No. 11 Miami, 4-3, To Reach College World Series
Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) delivered a two-out RBI double in the top of the 10th inning to drive in freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) with what proved to be the winning run as No. 4 Florida (47-15) upended No. 11 Miami (Fla.) (43-20), 4-3, in front of a school-record crowd of 5,783 fans on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. The victory in Game 2 of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional secured the Gators’ sixth trip to the College World Series, first since 2005, for what will be the final event at Rosenblatt Stadium.
After Florida had tied the game in the top of the ninth on a two-out throwing error by the Hurricanes that would have ended the game, junior right fielder Chris Pelaez then misplayed Fontana’s fly ball to right field to start the 10th, resulting in Fontana reaching second base. The miscue was Miami’s seventh of the contest. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) advanced Fontana into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and sophomore Daniel Miranda (5-3) had sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) hit a grounder for the second out. Maddox stepped to the plate and ripped a double down the right-field line to put the Gators on top, 4-3. It was his 16th two-bagger of the campaign and boosted his team-leading RBI total to 71, 37 of which have come with two outs.
Pelaez began the bottom of the inning with a flare into left center and sophomore Thomas Powers was inserted as a pinch runner. A sacrifice bunt by sophomore Nathan Melendres (1-for-4, three RBI) pushed Powers to second base and sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) was called in to replace freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) (2-0), who gave up two hits over one inning of work. The right-hander caught freshman Michael Broad looking on strikes and then had sophomore Rony Rodriguez ground out to Fontana at shortstop, who fired a bullet across the diamond to Tucker at first base for the final out. Larson collected his third save by setting down both batters he faced.
“Well, there are just under 300 teams that set out to get to Omaha at the beginning of the season,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s the very pinnacle of college baseball. I’m awfully proud of our players. It’s tough to get there and this game proved that tonight. I thought Chris Hernandez was outstanding for Miami on the mound tonight. We’ve been seeing him for three years and that’s by far his best performance against us. He was moving the ball in and out, throwing strikes. You could tell from the first inning he was going to be really sharp. On the other hand, I thought Hudson Randall matched him pitch-for-pitch. Our bullpen did absolutely outstanding. (Kevin) Chapman has been lights out for us all season, aside from the one hit tonight, but even now, I wouldn’t change the call to put him in even if I could go back and do it. (Jeff) Barfield came kept battling as well in the eighth and from there on out we were great. This time in the year the whole goal is to score one more run than the other team and we were fortunate enough to do that tonight.”
Florida seized a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly into center field by freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (1-for-3, two RBI) that brought home senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale. Fla.) (1-for-2, three walks, two runs). den Dekker had opened the inning with a bunt single, Florida’s first hit off junior Chris Hernandez, that extended his hitting streak to seven games. Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) laid down a bunt that Hernandez fielded and threw wide of second base for an error. den Dekker was interfered with on the play and was awarded third base, while Zunino occupied first. Johnson’s second sac fly to straightaway center field plated den Dekker with the opening run of the contest.
Freshman Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) retired the first two batters in the home part of the inning and den Dekker made a spectacular diving grab in center field on a liner hit by Broad to close the stanza.
Johnson came through with a clutch two-out RBI single in the seventh that gave the Gators a 2-0 advantage. den Dekker had drawn a one-out walk, his second free pass of the game, and advanced into scoring position on a grounder by Zunino. Moments later, Johnson roped a 1-2 offering from Hernandez into right center to drive in den Dekker. The base-hit raised his hitting streak to a career-high nine games.
In the bottom of the inning, Melendres connected on a three-run homer off junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead. Freshman Frankie Ratcliff had led off with an infield single, ending a run of 12-straight batters that Randall had retired. The right-hander answered by having junior Yasmani Grandal pop up to Fontana but Pelaez followed with a single and Ratliff went to third when Daniel Pigott bobbled the ball in right field. With runners on the corners, Chapman was summoned to replace Randall, who yielded three singles and notched five strikeouts over 6.2 innings. Melendres launched his ninth homer over the right-field fence to give UM its first lead of the series.
Senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) took over for Chapman (0.1 IP) in the eighth and retired the side in order. With the Gators down to their final three outs, Tucker began the ninth with a single through the left side and Hernandez had Maddox fly out to center. den Dekker drew another walk for a pair of runners aboard and Hernandez (8.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER) was replaced by Miranda. The left-hander had Zunino ground out to third but Broad committed a throwing error to load the bases with one out. The reliever caught Johnson looking on strikes and had junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) ground out to short. However, Perez had an errant throw over to first base that enabled Tucker to score the tying run. Miranda fanned senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to leave the bases full.
Barfield (1.1 IP, 1 H) had Ratcliff ground out to start UM’s ninth and Rodriguez entered the game and permitted a bloop single into right field by senior Scott Lawson. The lefty had Grandal fly out to the warning track in left field for the second out. Zunino gunned down Lawson attempting to steal second base to send the game into extra innings.
· The Gators improved to 47-15 this season with the Super Regional win over Miami, their highest victory total since the 2005 College World Series runner-up squad finished 48-23.
· Florida will be making its sixth College World Series appearance in school history, the first since 2005.
· The Gators are now 30-9 (.769 ) in NCAA play on their own turf.
· With the 4-3 victory Saturday, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan improved to 4-0 over UM in NCAA play, 7-6 (.538) overall.
· Florida improved to 2-0 in extra innings this season and played their first game with free baseball in postseason play since an 11-10, 10-inning victory over Miami on June 2, 2002, at the NCAA Gainesville Regional.
· O’Sullivan has a 8-4 (.667) NCAA Tournament mark, going 0-2 at the 2008 Tallahassee Regional, 3-0 at the 2009 Gainesville Regional, 0-2 at the 2009 Gainesville Super Regional, 3-0 at the 2010 Gainesville Regional and 2-0 in the 2010 Gainesville Super Regional.
· The Gators’ 18 saves this season tie the team’s single-season best set in 1991.
· Florida’s bullpen improved to 17-2 this season.
· Of Austin Maddox’s 71 RBI, 37 have been of the two-out variety.
· Florida notched its 99th all-time win over Miami with the 4-3 victory Saturday.
· The Gators knocked Miami out of NCAA Tournament play for the second time in the last two years after notching two wins in the 2009 NCAA Regional over the Hurricanes and two straight in the 2010 Gainesville Super Regional. It was the first time the Gators beat Miami to advance to the College World Series.
· The Gators have out-scored their opponents, 43-10, in five NCAA Tournament games.
· The Orange and Blue has a 15-game winning streak at home since an 8-3 loss to Arkansas in the opener of the teams’ weekend series on April 23.
· Saturday’s McKethan Stadium attendance, 5,783, set a new McKethan Stadium attendance record. The series attendance of 11,212 set a new record for a two-game series.
· The Gators are now 36-4 (.900) when scoring first.
· Florida is additionally 10-3 (.769) in one-run games this season.
· Brian Johnson extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. This NCAA Tournament, Johnson is 8-for-15 (.533) with five RBI, two runs, one home run and a triple.
· Nine of Florida’s 11 runs in the Super Regional series with Miami came with two outs.
Miami (Fla.) Notes
· The Hurricanes concluded their season 43-20 after being halted in the Gainesville Super Regional.
· Through the first 15 innings of the Super Regional series, the Hurricanes tallied two runs on four hits, but tacked on three runs on three hits at the bottom of the seventh inning tonight.
· Miami tied a postseason school record (May 19, 1978 vs. Clemson) with seven errors.
· Nathan Melendres finished the season with five home runs in his last nine games after having four in his first 49 contests.
· Miami finished the season with 106 home runs, tied for second all-time (2008) in school history for home runs in a season.
· The Hurricanes scored a combined five runs this weekend after entering the series averaging 7.75 runs per game.