FSU Eliminates UF at College World Series

By Nick Sellers

In a do-or-die elimination game at the College World Series, a transplanted Florida rivalry took center stage at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. Under the bright lights of College Baseball’s most hallowed ground, the Florida State Seminole baseball team provided plenty of theatre, as they defeated the Florida Gators 8-5.

The Seminoles (48-19) took a six-run lead into the ninth inning, but swiftly fell into trouble as the Gators (47-17) quickly loaded the bases after a walk, a single and an error by shortstop Stephen Cardullo. The Gators plated three runs after a double by first baseman Preston Tucker sent everyone home. Seminole pitcher Daniel Bennett was then relieved of his duties by the ’Noles perennial stopper, Mike McGee.

With Tucker still on second base, McGee gave up singles to Austin Maddox and Matt van Decker to load the bases for a second time in the top half of the ninth and bring the potential game-winning run in Gator catcher Mike Zunino to the plate. McGee then got Zunino to line a ball straight to Cardullo at shortstop who then tossed the ball to freshman Devon Travis at second for the final out of the Seminoles’ victory, and consequently the final out of the Gators’ season. McGee recorded his 13th save of the season.

“We’ve got the man in the game that we want in the game at that moment, because he’s been there so many times,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin of the late inning drama. “Certainly there was a concern of the lead that we had in seeing it dwindle. But Mike was in control.”

Sophomore Brian Busch started the game on the mound for the ’Noles, and after giving up a home run in the top of the first, settled in to go 5.1 innings with two earned runs, at one point retiring eight straight Gator batters. It was his sixth win of the season.

After falling down 1-0 in the first, leadoff hitter Tyler Holt would set the tone for the Seminoles’ day offensively with a solo home run to even the score at 1-1. Holt would finish the day with three hits in four at-bats, three runs and two RBI.

“My first at-bat, I just wanted to get him deep in the count, kind of set the tone to where if they were going to beat us, they’re going to have to use their pen,” said Holt. “And that’s kind of the approach that we had today.”

It was an approach the ’Noles would utilize for the remainder of the game, roughing up Gator starter Hudson Randall early and often. Randall would only last 2.1 innings against a ’Noles lineup that had 14 hits on the day.

After the second ended scoreless for both sides, Holt and third basemen Sherman Johnson both reached base on walks in the home half of the third. McGee then put a 1-2 slider over the wall to give the Seminoles a 4-1 lead.

“I like to be in control in the end, but hitting the home run, it’s the best feeling there is,” said McGee.

McGee would drive in Holt once more in the fourth inning for a season-high four RBI. The offensive charge was also lead by Cardullo, who pushed a ball over the wall in deep center in the 7th and freshman first baseman Jayce Boyd, who finished the day with three hits and an RBI.

Geoff Parker provided 2.1 innings of exceptional relief for the ’Noles, relieving Busch in the top of the sixth and allowing just four hits and no runs.

The Seminoles now face an uphill climb and move on to face the TCU Horned Frogs (52-13) in a rematch of the opening round game that saw the ’Noles fall 8-1 on Saturday. The game will be played Wednesday June 23 at 7 p.m. EST and will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

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