Gators advance to College World Series

By Anthony Chiang

The Gators’ hopes of clinching a berth to the College World Series looked dead.

But Miami’s defense revived them.

Down by just one run in the ninth, Florida loaded the bases with two outs.

But the Gators didn’t need a hit to get the job done – all it needed was Miami’s fifth error of the game on a routine ground ball off the bat of junior Josh Adams.

UF took advantage of the Hurricanes’ lackluster defense on Saturday to punch its ticket to Omaha, Neb. for the sixth time in school history with a 4-3 victory over Miami in front of a record 5,783 people in McKethan Stadium.

“It’s tough when you are dealing with 18- and 19 year-old young men,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “When so much is at stake at this time of the year, little things like that can come back to either help you or haunt you.”

Adams reached base in the ninth because of a weak throw from Miami shortstop Stephen Perez, which allowed the ball to bounce before it reached the first baseman.

The critical error allowed sophomore Preston Tucker to score and tie the game at three. The Gators eventually won the game on a go-ahead double from Austin Maddox in the 10th inning to bring freshman Nolan Fontana home.

“I’ve been seeing the ball well all weekend,” Maddox said. “I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it and came up big time. I’ll remember that hit for the rest of my life.”

Fontana’s run was also unearned as he reached base thanks to an error by right fielder Chris Pelaez.

Miami’s seven errors in the second game of the series didn’t help pitcher Chris Hernandez, who threw a gem Saturday. He threw 8.1 innings while giving up just three hits.

The Gators scored eight unearned runs in the two super regional games on nine errors by the Hurricanes.

However, UF’s defense didn’t give its starting pitcher Hudson Randall those same problems.

Randall used two double plays and a stellar diving catch from UF center fielder Matt den Dekker to throw 6.2 innings and allow just two runs. The freshman struck out five to continue his recent success.

“I was coming in trying give our team the same chance we had yesterday,” Randall said. “Our offense has been on a roll now, so I knew they were going to get some runs for me.”

The freshman hurler is sporting a 2.14 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Florida’s bullpen was just as good. Four relievers combined to pitch 3.1 innings of one-run baseball.

The UF pitching staff limited Miami’s offense, which came into the super regional averaging more than 11 runs per game in its last seven contests, to just five total runs in the super regional.

Sophomore Greg Larson recorded the final two outs for the Gators to close out the game and begin the celebration.

“This is what I came back for,” den Dekker said. “This is definitely the best moment of my career.”

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