Florida rallies to earn 5-4 win over Miami in NCAA Baseball Regional
[Check out the Gators' postgame press conference at the end of this post]
Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Gators a dramatic 5-4 victory over Miami Saturday evening in the NCAA Baseball Regional at McKethan Stadium.
The No. 2 overall seed Gators are now one win away from advancing to next week’s NCAA Super Regional. Florida will play the winner of the Miami-Jacksonville game today at 4 p.m. Florida has now won 10 of the last 11 against the Hurricanes, seven consecutive.
“It’s all about the 15 steps to home plate before your at-bat,’’ Fontana said. And when he (UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan) was talking to me, he just said pitch to drive, drive it to the outfield, a sac fly wins the game. That’s what I tried to do out there and I just got on top of one a little bit and got a base hit. It’s exciting. To say the least it’s exciting. We’ll enjoy it but tomorrow’s another day.’’
Florida trailed 2-0 in the fourth, but rallied to take a 4-2 lead. Miami tied the game in the seventh on a hit by Rony Rodriguez that scored Zeke DeVoss.
Tied at four in the ninth, Gators’ reliever Tommy Toledo gave up a leadoff double, but retired the next three batters, including an acrobatic catch on the mound before throwing out Chantz Mack at first base to end the inning.
“It was just a chopper back to me that hit the top of my glove and I was just fortunate enough I got under it right afterwards,’’ Toledo said. “You know, I set my feet and made a good throw at first and that was a big momentum for us to go back out in the ninth.’’
Miami committed four errors, which all led to UF runs. The Hurricanes had two walks and a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth.
“We made too many errors,’’ Miami coach Jim Morris said. “That's the bottom line for us. We were pretty equal hitting wise and everything else but we made errors that cost us the game. They've got an outstanding club, they played hard. I thought our pitchers threw pretty well we just made those four errors and three of them were the result of three runs.''
Florida had 11 hits, no errors. Miami had 10 hits, but the four costly mistakes. Gator right fielder Preston Tucker had another strong outing, going 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored.
“It was a great game, both teams played really well, it was back and forth all game long,’’ Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We knew when we got the 4-2 lead that the game was certainly far from over. We battled all day at the plate. I thought we threw the ball really good, I just thought Miami had good at bats all day. You have to tip your cap to our guys, I was really proud of the way they battled all day. It was a hard-fought game on both sides, we just happened to get some breaks at the end, but awfully proud of the way we played all day long.’’