Florida advances to NCAA Super Regional with 11-4 win over Miami
There’s something about Miami that really gets Alonso alum Alex Panteliodis going. He can’t quite explain. And the Gators aren’t questioning. They are just enjoying the spoils of his work.
Panteliodis pitched his longest outing of the season – 6 1/3 innings allowing just one run – and former Plant standout Preston Tucker went 2-of-4 with five RBI including a three-run homer in the first inning to help lead Florida to an 11-4 victory over Miami in the NCAA Gainesville Regional.
Florida (47-16) advances to its school-record third consecutive NCAA Super Regional and will face either Georgia Tech or Missisippi State. The Gators are the No. 2 overall national seed, and are expected to host.
“I don’t know, something sparks me against them,’’ said Panteliodis, whose ERA is 0.75 with one earned run in 12 innings in his past two starts. “I don’t really like the guys, but they are a great team and they always come out there and just boost my ego and makes me get after them and just throw the ball. There’s just something about them. They’re a great ball team, but they just spark me.’’
On Sunday, outside of the home run by Chantz Mack, the pitcher affectionately known as “Panda” didn’t allow a batter past first base. He also pithced a complete game against Miami last season in the postseason.
Tucker, who was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player, hit a three-run homer in the first inning – the seventh of his postseason career, tying the UF record set by Mario Linares from 1988-91. He also picked up his 26th RBI, breaking Linares’ record for career RBI in NCAA postseason play.
“I didn’t know that, but right now it’s all about winning games,’’ said Tucker, who finished the regional batting .500 (7-for-14) with 11 RBI, six runs, three home runs and three doubles. “Florida has had a great program for 100 years, so I know it’s going to mean something omeday, but right now I’m just trying to get guys in. . . Whenever I see an opportunity I’m just trying to drive in the runs.’’
Florida has defeated Miami in 11 of its last 12 meetings, eight consecutive and six in the postseason. UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said it doesn't mean the Gators have Miami's number.
"I don't look at it that way,'' O'Sullivan said. "Miami's got a historic program. Coach Morris is one of the best head coaches in the country. I don't look at it that way. We've had some recent success against Miami but this is a year-to-year thing. I don't feel like we've got things figured out. It's not that. We just have played well against Miami. We've been at home for three year in a row, and that's a big difference. But we've got a great deal of respect for Miami. It's a rivalry but by no means do we have this thing figured out.''
The Hurricanes, which was forced to play the Gators shortly after its 6-3 come-from-behind win over Jacksonville.
“I’m sure it took something out of us,’’ Miami coach Jim Morris said. “It was pretty hot out there and it definitely took a toll on us. . . .I’m disappointed in the outcome, disappointed that we gave up so many runs early and didn’t give ourselves a chance to be in the game longer. The bottom line is they played much better than we did.’’
The Gators won three consecutive games despite the loss of first baseman and closer Austin Maddox in the third inning of Friday's game, and without standout pitcher Brian Johnson, who suffered a concussion in the SEC Tournament after he was accidentally hit in the head.
"I think it says a lot about our depth and the character of our team,'' O'Sullivan said. "It would have been easy given the circumstances to us that as a crutch. We had a lot of guys step up and that's what you have to do in the postseason.''
Six Gators including Tucker were named to the All-Tournament team: Panteliodis, Nolan Fontana, Tyler Thompson, Daniel Pigott and Mike Zunino.
Check out a portion of the postgame press conference here: