Kent State (47-19) worked out of bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning to edge Florida (47-20), 5-4, and eliminate the Gators from the 2012 NCAA College World Series on Monday at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. With the victory, the Golden Flashes advance to play the loser of tonight’s winner’s bracket contest between Arkansas (45-20) and South Carolina (46-17) on Wednesday night.
With Florida trailing by a run and down to its final three outs in the top of the ninth since it was the designated visiting team, senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (1-for-3) and junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) began the frame with consecutive walks from redshirt sophomore Michael Clark (0.1 IP, 3 BB). Redshirt freshman Josh Pierce was summoned from the bullpen and junior pinch hitter Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) moved his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was then plunked on a 2-0 pitch to fill the bags with one down. However, Pierce struck out freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and had freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) fly out to right field to complete the contest and nail down his third save. Junior Ryan Bores (10-3) collected the win by limiting UF to two runs over six innings.
Golden Flashes had seized a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on an
RBI single by junior George Roberts (2-for-4, two RBI). Senior Jimmy Rider
(2-for-5, three runs) had reached on a one-out throwing error by junior
shortstop Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) and went to third on a
single into right center by senior David Lyon (3-for-5). Roberts stroked a
base-hit into right field that scored Rider and a grounder by sophomore T.J.
Sutton pushed his teammates into scoring position. Junior Hudson Randall
(Atlanta, Ga.) pitched out of the jam with a strikeout of freshman Sawyer Polen
Junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) led off the second with an infield single and was able to take second base on Turgeon’s fielder’s choice, as sophomore Derek Toadvine committed a throwing error. Bores induced an inning-ending 1-4-6-3 double play by Shafer.
Kent State increased its lead to 4-0 in the second inning with three unearned runs on four hits. Randall (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R) needed to be taken out prior to the frame and junior Jason Bagoly (2-for-3) greeted sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) with a single up the middle. Freshman Alex Miklos laid down a bunt but freshman third baseman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) committed an error to enable the Golden Flashes to have two runners aboard with none out. Toadvine sacrificed his teammates into scoring position and Crawford responded with a strikeout of junior Evan Campbell. Rider legged out a single up the third-base line to bring home Bagoly and both Lyon and Roberts followed with RBI singles to give KSU a four-run lead.
Zunino narrowed the gap to 4-1 with a two-out RBI single in the third inning. Tobias started the stanza by being hit by a pitch and Fontana drew a one-out walk. After Tucker fouled out to the catcher, Zunino roped a 3-2 offering up the middle to put the Gators on the board. With runners on the corners, Bores escaped further issues with a strikeout of Johnson.
Kent State took advantage of a double and a pair of wild pitches to build a 5-1 margin in the fourth. Rider doubled to left field with one down and went to third on an errant pitch. Crawford fanned Lyon but then uncorked another wild pitch to score Rider with the fifth run.
Sutton and Polen had back-to-back singles to begin Kent State’s fifth, ending the afternoon for Crawford (3.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 3 K). Senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) came in and Bagoly advanced his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. A fielder’s choice by Miklos was scooped up by Turgeon, who threw out Sutton at the plate for the second out. Larson kept the Golden Flashes scoreless by having Toadvine ground out.
Shafer’s second double of the afternoon plated Pigott in the sixth for a 5-2 Gator deficit. Pigott had singled through the left side of the infield and Shafer connected on a two-out, two-bagger to the wall in right center to score his teammate all the way from first base.
The Gators closed the gap to 5-4 in the seventh with two runs on three hits. Freshman Brian Clark replaced Bores prior to the inning after the KSU starter yielded six hits and two runs over six innings. Freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) earned a leadoff walk and Fontana and Tucker each followed with singles into right field to load the bases. Zunino came through with an RBI single into center field to bring home Gushue and Johnson hit into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Fontana for a 5-4 count. Junior Casey Wilson relieved Clark (0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R) and had Pigott line out to second base.
Larson recorded the first two outs in the home part of the inning before Bagoly stroked a double to straightaway center field. After issuing a walk to Miklos, Larson (2.2 IP, 2 H) was replaced by junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.). The right-hander had Toadvine fly out to right field to strand the runners.
Turgeon started the eighth with a single into center field and Shafer flew out to left center for the first out. A fielder’s choice by Tobias forced Turgeon at second base and Michael Clark came in for Wilson (1.0 IP, 1 H). The southpaw walked Gushue for two Gators aboard and kept UF at bay by having Fontana pop up to shortstop. Maddox put the Golden Flashes down in order in the bottom of the eighth to put the Orange and Blue in position for the ninth.
Kent State had a 12-10 advantage in hits, while the teams combined to leave 22 runners on base (12-UF, 10-KSU). For all of the latest information on Florida baseball, log on to http://www.gatorzone.com/baseball/ or follow the team’s Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB.
· Florida completed its eighth trip to Omaha with a 0-2 record.
· Freshman first baseman Taylor Gushue made his first start since May 15 at Samford.
· The Gators started four freshmen today: Gushue (1B), Justin Shafer (LF), Josh Tobias (3B) and Casey Turgeon (2B).
· At 95 degrees, today was the warmest first pitch temperature for an NCAA College World Series game since June 11, 2001.
· Senior Preston Tucker closes his career as the NCAA’s active career leader in games played (265), home runs (57), total bases (596) and RBI (258). He also ranks third in hits (340) and doubles (70) and sits second in at bats (1,032), with the latter total ranking ninth in Division I history.
· Junior Mike Zunino’s two RBI gave him 12 over Florida’s last six games (at least one in each).
· Senior reliever Greg Larson made his 122nd career appearance on the mound on Monday, second-most among all active players (behind the 133 from Mississippi Valley’s Cody Parker and ahead of the 120 from Wright State’s Michael Schum).
· Larson's 122 appearances rank second in UF history behind Connor Falkenbach (124 from 2002-05).
· After a 2-for-5 effort on Monday, freshman Justin Shafer went 6-for-12 with three doubles and three RBI over Florida’s last three games.
· Shafer knocked in six runs in the NCAA Tournament this season.