No. 1 Florida (47-18) plated a pair of runs in the top of the 10th inning and withstood a rally by No. 11 NC State (43-20) to notch a 9-8 triumph in the second game of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. UF had defeated the Wolfpack in Saturday’s opener by a 7-1 score.
The victory secured the Gators’ eighth trip to the NCAA College World Series (1988, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012) and marks the program’s third-consecutive trip to Omaha. UF will face the winner of the NCAA Columbia Super Regional between host South Carolina (44-17) and Oklahoma (42-24) at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha either next Friday or Saturday in the opening round of the CWS. The Gamecocks claimed last night’s series opener over the Sooners, 5-0, and the teams are currently in a rain delay.
With the game in the 10th inning tied at 7-7 and Florida the visiting team, NCSU redshirt senior Vance Williams (4-4) took over for freshman Travis Orwig (0.1 IP). Senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-5) clubbed a leadoff homer just over the right-field wall to give the Gators an 8-7 lead. It was his first blast since May 11 against Mississippi State and eighth of the campaign. Freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (3-for-5) collected his third hit of the contest with a base-hit into right field and was sacrificed to second by freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (2-for-3). After junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) lined to shortstop for the second out, freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) (2-for-5) sliced an RBI single into right field to give the Gators a 9-7 advantage.
Freshman Brett Austin (2-for-4) drew a leadoff walk from sophomore Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) (4-0), who was replaced by freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.). The rookie left-hander plunked junior Tarran Senay for a pair of runners on base and junior Grant Clyde sacrificed his teammates into scoring position with a bunt. Sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) took over on the mound for Poyner and freshman Trea Turner brought the Wolfpack within 9-8 with a sacrifice fly to straightway center field. With the tying run on second base, Kish caught junior Chris Diaz looking on strikes to record his first career save and secure UF’s trip to the College World Series.
NCSU freshman Carlos Rodon and Florida sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) were locked in a pitcher’s duel early in the contest, with the Wolfpack hurler retiring seven in a row and the Gator righty setting down all six batters, before the game was delayed at 1:37 p.m. due to lightning and then heavy rains in the area.
When play resumed at exactly 4 p.m., Austin doubled to left field to start the home part of the third, ending a stretch of 14.2 hitless innings by Crawford dating back to a leadoff single by Auburn’s Bobby Andrews in the third inning at the SEC Tournament on May 22. In addition, the right-hander’s streak of consecutive batters retired was stopped at 25, two shy of the school record held by junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.). The last base-runner against Crawford had come on a walk by Bethune-Cookman’s Jake Welch in the third inning last Friday night. Following a strikeout of freshman Logan Ratledge, junior Matt Bergquist (2-for-4) opened the scoring with an RBI double to right field. A fly ball to right field by Turner advanced Bergquist to third base and Crawford countered with a key strikeout of Diaz.
The Gators answered with four runs on five hits in the fourth to seize a 4-1 advantage. Redshirt sophomore Anthony Tzamtzis took over for Rodon (3.0 IP, 0 H, 3 K) out of the delay and surrendered a game-tying homer to senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) to right field. The round-tripper was Tucker’s 16th of the year and 11th all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-4) followed with his SEC-leading 28th double down the left-field line and Johnson’s 13th two-bagger of the year to the base of the wall in right field pushed Zunino to third. Tzamtzis retired Pigott on an infield fly and Turgeon moved the Gators in front with an RBI single into right field to bring home Zunino and end the afternoon for Tzamtzis (0.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R). Shafer greeted junior Ryan Wilkins with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Johnson and Turgeon moved into scoring position with his ninth theft. Ramjit roped an RBI single into left field to bring in Turgeon and wound up taking second base on a fielding error by Ratledge before Wilkins had Tobias pop up to complete the stanza.
The Wolfpack used a two-out, two-run double by Austin to narrow the gap to 4-3 in the home part of the frame. Crawford notched the first two outs before permitting consecutive singles to senior Andrew Ciencin and freshman Jake Fincher (2-for-5). Austin delivered his second double of the game to deep center field to drive in his teammates and bring NCSU within a run. After issuing an intentional walk to Senay, Crawford (3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 5 K, 1 BB) was replaced by senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.), who induced a grounder by Bergquist that Tobias stabbed and tagged third base to finish the inning.
Diaz knotted the game at 4-4 in the fifth with a one-out homer into the left-field bleachers. It was his second dinger of the campaign and the first allowed by Larson this season.
In NCSU’s sixth, Larson collected the first two outs before junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen. Larson gave up one hit and a run in his two innings of work and Rodriguez had Austin ground out to send the game to the seventh all tied up.
After Wilkins set down the Gators 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, junior Danny Canela (2-for-5, two RBI) provided the Wolfpack with a 5-4 advantage on a two-out RBI single into left field. Bergquist singled up the middle with one down and Turner legged out a bunt single for two runners aboard. Tucker laid out for a diving catch in right field to rob Diaz of a hit and Canela followed with a base-hit into left field to move NCSU ahead. Junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) came in for Rodriguez (1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R) and had redshirt senior Ryan Mathews fly out to left field.
Florida answered in the eighth on a one-out homer by Johnson to right field and a go-ahead single by Shafer that resulted in a 6-5 lead. Johnson tagged a 1-0 offering from Wilkins for his first big fly since April 17 against Georgia Southern and his sixth of the season. Pigott followed with a base-hit into center field and Turgeon stroked a single through the right side of the infield that advanced Pigott to third base. Turgeon stole second for Gators on second and third and Shafer gave the Orange and Blue the advantage with a sharply hit ball into left field that scored Pigott. Turgeon was thrown out on a close play at the plate on a relay throw from Senay.
The Wolfpack answered in the home part of the inning with a game-tying solo homer by Fincher for a 6-6 score. It was his first homer of the campaign and came on Maddox’s initial pitch of the at bat. The righty then struck out Austin, plunked Senay with two down and caught Bergquist looking on strikes to complete the inning.
Tobias started the ninth with a double to right center and was sacrificed to third by junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.). Tucker was walked intentionally and Zunino put the Gators back on top with his single-season school-record 10th sacrifice fly to bring home Tobias for a 7-6 Gator advantage. Orwig came in for Wilkins (5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R) and had Johnson fly out.
NC State tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a one-out single into right field by Canela. Turner drew a leadoff walk and stole second for his 57th theft of the year. Maddox had Diaz ground out, leaving Turner at second, and Canela tied the game with an RBI single into right field. Whitson relieved Maddox (1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R) and struck out Mathews before walking Ciencin for two runners aboard. The righty struck out Fincher looking to give the fans free baseball.
· With the victory, the Gators advanced to their third-consecutive and eighth overall College World Series.
· It marks the first time in school history that UF has made three straight College World Series,
· The extra-inning victory improved UF to 3-1 in extra-inning games this season and was their first extra-inning game in the postseason since a 4-3 victory over Miami (Fla.) in the 2010 Gainesville Super Regional, a win which also clinched a CWS berth for the Gators.
· It marks the ninth time that the Gators have scored nine-or-more runs in the NCAA Tournament under Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan. UF is 8-1 in those games, having won the past eight.
· O’Sullivan is now18-3 at McKethan Stadium during NCAA play.
· Senior Preston Tucker belted his 57th career homer, 26 of which have been solo shots. The homer was the 11th of his postseason career, adding to his school record.
· Junior Mike Zunino registered his 22nd multiple-hit game of the season.
· Sophomore righty Karsten Whitson picked up the win to improve to 4-0 on the season and 2-1 in his postseason career.
· Sophomore right-hander Keenan Kish picked up his first career save by retiring the last two batters of the game.
· Freshman leftfielder Justin Shafer recorded his fifth multi-RBI game of the season with his team-best two RBI.
· Senior DH Brian Johnson belted his sixth home run of the season and second of his postseason career.
· Sophomore right hander Jonathon Crawford allowed his first hit in 14.2 innings when Brett Austin doubled in the bottom of the third inning.
· UF improved to 23-10 against top-25 opponents this year and is 10-0 versus ACC foes (3-0 vs. Florida State & Miami (Fla.), 2-0 vs. Georgia Tech & NC State).
· Florida improved to 5-1 all-time vs. NC State, with all six meetings coming in the NCAA Tournament.
· The win was UFs 23rd come-from-behind victory of the season.
· The Orange and Blue improved to 7-7 in one-run games on the season.
· The Gators are 5-0 in the postseason and have out scored their opponents by a 41-14 margin.