It was a long day for the Florida Gator baseball team. Florida’s Super Regional game ran over six hours with a two hour rain delay, but Gator fans went home happy as Florida pulled out the win 9-8 over NC State. The win sends Florida to College World Series for the third year in a row.
The game Sunday saw a total of 12 pitchers and 9 lead changes as it went back and forth between the two clubs. The two starting pitchers, Jonathan Crawford for Florida and Carlos Rodon for NC State each did not allow a hit into the third inning; that’s when the lightning and the rains came that turned into a two hour delay. After that, the hitting shoes came on as Florida rapped out 15 hits and the Wolfpack 11.
When play resumed, Rodon was out and Anthony Tzamtzis in for the Wolfpack but he was rudely greeted by a first pitch home run by Preston Tucker to get the offense started for the Gators. Tzamtzis’ final line was a third of an inning pitched, with four runs given up.
Florida’s offensive leaders include freshman Casey Turgeon who went 3 for 5 on the day, Justin Shafer who drove in two runs and Josh Tobias who drove in the eventual game winning run with a liner to right (then was caught in a rundown between first and second). Turgeon says that its been amazing to do all this as a freshman.
The Gators used a total of seven pitchers, each doing “just enough” said Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan to get the job done. Every Gator pitcher after Crawford gave up at least a run until Bobby Poyner and Keenan Kish (who got the eventual save). Karsten Whitson got the win as he stranded two in the NC State ninth to keep the Gators in the game.
This is the final game for the seniors and high draftees within the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium, and the players knew that as they got the final out. It was all hugs and smiles afterward, not only for getting to Omaha for the third straight year, but for pulling this one out for the older guys. Senior outfielder Preston Tucker says this is exactly what he imagined it would be.
Gator head coach Kevin O’Sullivan says that the players have accomplished something incredible.
The Gators now wait to see who wins the Columbia Super Regional between Oklahoma and South Carolina. That series resumes in the sixth inning 0-0 this afternoon. The opening ceremony in Omaha is on Thursday, with the action getting underway on Friday.