Friday May 31, 2013Austin Peay Rallies Past Florida In NCAA Tourney Opener, 4-3; Gators In Elimination Bracket Saturday
Junior Michael Davis belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to turn a 3-1 deficit for second-seeded Austin Peay (46-13) into an eventual 4-3 victory over third-seeded Florida (29-29) in the opening game of the NCAA Bloomington Regional on Friday afternoon at Bart Kaufman Field.
With its 16th-straight triumph, the longest winning streak in the nation, the Govs advance to tomorrow’s winner’s bracket contest against either top-seeded Indiana (43-14) or fourth-seeded Valparaiso (31-26) at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, the Gators will play either the Hoosiers or Crusaders in an elimination game at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.
Florida sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) had erased a 1-0 lead for Austin Peay with a three-run dinger in the sixth inning that had moved the Orange and Blue in front. After sophomore right-hander Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (5-4) replaced junior southpaw Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) (0.2 IP) prior to the home part of the eighth, junior Craig Massoni (2-for-4) blooped a leadoff single into right field and senior Reed Harper bounced a single off of Harris’ leg for two runners aboard. A fielder’s choice by senior Cody Hudson erased Harper at second base and moved Massoni to third base before Hudson swiped second to give the Govs a pair of runners in scoring position. Davis then stepped to the plate and delivered his fifth homer of the year over the wall in left field to provide APSU with a 4-3 advantage.
Senior Tyler Rogers, the Division I leader in saves, took the mound for the ninth after a pair of scoreless frames by junior Kacy Kemmer (6-0) and plunked Shafer to start the Gators’ final at bat. The righty had senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) ground into a 4-6-3 double play and had sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) ground out to secure his 22nd save. Junior righty Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) was not involved in the decision after permitting one run on four hits in 6.1 innings.
The Govs put their first two runners of the game aboard against but were kept at bay by Crawford. After redshirt sophomore Dylan Riner drew a leadoff walk, junior Jordan Hankins (2-for-4) punched a single into left field. Crawford worked out of the jam by having Massoni ground into a 5-3 double play and then had Harper ground out to Tobias.
Austin Peay opened the scoring in the fourth inning on an RBI grounder by Hudson that brought across Hankins, who had started the frame with a double into the gap in right center field. A ground ball by Massoni advanced Hankins to third base and Harper earned a free pass for runners on the corners with one down. Hudson broke the ice with a grounder to senior shortstop Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) that scored Hankins. Although Harper swiped third, Crawford struck out Davis to hold the Gators’ deficit at one run.
Tobias began the fifth with a base-hit through the left side of the infield off of junior starter Zach Hall and was sacrificed into scoring position by freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (2-for-2). Hall responded by having freshman Brady Roberson (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Dent each fly out.
In the bottom of the frame, junior P.J. Torres (2-for-4) reached on a one-out throwing error by Dent and was sacrificed to second base on a bunt by sophomore Brett Carlson. Riner was plunked for two Govs aboard and Crawford responded with an inning-ending strikeout of Hankins to hold the score at 1-0.
Consecutive one-out walks to sophomores Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) in the sixth inning prompted a pitching change, as redshirt junior Lee Ridenhour took over for Hall. Shafer greeted the reliever with a towering three-run homer to left field to give the Gators their first lead of the afternoon. It was his fifth big fly of the campaign to tie Gushue and Turgeon for the team lead and was his first round-tripper since April 26 against Tennessee. Over 5.1 innings, Hall gave up three hits and was charged with two runs, with three strikeouts and three walks.
In the seventh, Torres singled to right field with one down and took second base on a fielding error by Dent that enabled Carlson to reach on a fielder’s choice. Gibson was summoned to the bullpen for Crawford (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 K, 4 BB) and stunted the potential rally with a strikeout of Riner before having Hankins fly out to right center field.
Austin Peay held an 8-5 edge in hits and did not commit any errors, while the Gators had a couple of fielding miscues.
· The Gators’ 12-game winning streak in NCAA Regional games came to an end.
· Freshman Richie Martin opened the game with a single into left field, enabling him to reach base for the 17th-straight game.
· Freshman Harrison Bader delivered a two-out single through the left side in the second inning, matching his career-long hitting streak of eight games. Bader also reached base for the 17th game in a row.
· Four of UF’s five hits this afternoon were singles.
· The original start time of 1:05 p.m. was pushed back due to heavy rains and the teams began play at 2:20 p.m.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: I thought it was a well-played game on both sides. I thought both starting pitchers did an outstanding job. You know, it came down to -- we hit a big three-run homer, I believe there in the 6th and then they bounced back and hit one obviously in the 8th.
But, it was a very well-played game on both sides, and just came down to one swing and one pitch, and you know, this time of the year, that's what tends to happen.
I’m proud of the way our guys battled today. Austin Peay just played a little bit better. That's the bottom line.
Q. Justin, obviously it was a quick turn of events there, you guys take the lead and they get it back. Can you talk about the challenge of responding tomorrow after a turn of events like tonight?
JUSTIN SHAFER: We still have some games left. We have a great pitching staff, so we believe that we can come back and win the next four games.
Q. Basically when that ball goes up, did you guys think it had a chance of flying out of there?
JUSTIN SHAFER: He put a good swing on the ball. Had a chance when it went up, especially with the way the wind was blowing, whenever you barrel it up, you have a chance of it going out.
Q. I think a couple pitches before your home run, you laced into one that you hit pretty far foul. I guess what were you seeing in that at bat that got you some good contact?
JUSTIN SHAFER: We had a guy, a runner in scoring position. So, I was just looking for a pitch I could handle to drive in some runs and he happened to leave it up and make some contact and it went out.
Q. Jonathon, you had some control issues, I think four or five walks. How were you able to pitch around that? Your stuff was good but how were you able to work around that?
JONATHON CRAWFORD: Things were going quick for me, so just had to step back and take a deep breath and attack the hitter.
Q. The way the two pitchers were going, did you get a sense that runs were going to be a premium early on?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: We haven't swung the bats great for quite some time now. So, we have kind of gone into every game with it being a low-scoring event.
So I kind of had a feel, and their starter was doing a nice job, throwing his change up for strikes and fastball counts, and Jonathon was looking good, as well. Yeah, I think it was pretty evident early on that it was going to be a low-scoring game.
Q. A similar question, this town is known for ballparks that can do some funny things to fly balls. When Austin Peay's home run in the eighth when it went up, did it look like it had a chance and did you think it was one that could get caught up in the wind?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: As soon as it went up, the only chance it had was maybe it hit too high, but he struck it good. Yeah, I had a feeling it was going to go out.
Q. What did you like about Jonathon today? What made you decide that it was time to bring him out of that inning?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: He pitched, I think he had 112 pitches, four walks, worked out of a couple different jams, and we had lefty, righty, and he came in and did a great job. I just thought it was time.
Q. You guys have obviously kind of breezed through the regionals in recent years, and you have a young team; what kind of message does it give them to fight out of the loser's bracket?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: Not a whole lot yet. They are pretty disappointed right now. So we will get them focused for tomorrow. It's a one-game season now. So, we'll approach every game like it's the last and just get them ready to go tomorrow.
Q. Just wanted to ask what was going on with Ryan Harris today, why you thought he struggled.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: You know, the first hit was not struck hard and was struck away from his head. The next one was a ground ball that never left the infield. The bottom line is he got behind 2-1 to Davis and he left out the ball over the middle of the plate. It happens.
The kid's been really good for us all year long, you know, he has, so I'm not going to second-guess his effort. It's baseball. And like I said, as the lead-off man, if the ball goes over the second baseman's head, it's a different inning; it's one on and nobody out, and just kind of found a hole. If the ball goes through, doesn't hit Ryan in the foot, who knows, maybe it's a 6-4-3 double play. That's just the way things happen.
I credit Austin Peay; they gave themselves that opportunity. We made the mistake on one pitch and fell behind and they did what they wanted to do, simple as that.
Q. Early in the game there were several over-slides to second base due to wet field conditions; does that adjust your strategy?
COACH O'SULLIVAN: No, we will continue to run. But it was a bit frustrating to be quite honest with you. That's our game; we have to generate runs that way because we don't have a whole lot of power.
\We talked about it before the game earlier, because the ground was wet. But it wasn't going to change. I mean, it was getting to the point where we overslid the bag twice and they overslid the bag once. But it wasn't a change in what we we’re doing. Had to make an adjustment and slide earlier.
Q. Tomorrow what are you looking for offensively? Hit into a couple double plays. You're getting runners on. Didn't seem like you guys were able to cash in until the home run in the sixth.
COACH O'SULLIVAN: We just have to score more runs, simple as that. We need more quality at bats up-and-down the lineup. We had opportunities, got the lead-off man on, but didn't have a good at-bat after that.
So you have a runner at first, nobody out and next thing you know, it was runner at first and two outs. We need to put together some quality at-bats and we just need to string them together.