Gator baseball team advances to NCAA Super Regional with 16-5 win over Miami; three Tampa players named to All-Tournament Team
GAINESVILLE - Former Tampa Alonso pitcher Alex Panteliodis had a career-high six strikeouts, and Florida scored five runs in the top of the first on its way to a 16-5 victory over Miami Sunday in the NCAA baseball Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium.
Florida (42-20) advances to this week's NCAA Super Regional in Gainesville, and will play either Georgia Tech or Southern Miss. Sunday's victory was the first time in 14 attempts that the Gators have advanced out of a regional that included Miami. The Hurricanes' elimination marked the first time since 1990 (14 regionals) that the Hurricanes (38-22) have not won when they played a regional in the state of Florida.
"The whole goal of the weekend was to win this one to give us a chance to play one more weekend,'' UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We came out tonight and swung the bats really well. We had a really good approach. When you get an early lead like that, it makes it awfully easy.''
Florida led 7-1 after four innings, then had a breakout fifth inning. With two outs, the Gators had seven straight hits and scored seven runs. Tampa freshman Preston Tucker broke the school single-season RBI record in the first inning; he now has 83. The SEC Co-Freshman of the Year was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI. He has 23 multiple RBI games this season.
Tucker was named the tournament MVP. He was 9-for-13 with six RBI in three games. Tampa seniors Stephen Locke and Brandon McArthur were also named to the All-Tournament team.
"The MVP, everyone is swinging the bat so there's always guys on base when I get up there,'' Tucker said. "There's a lot more pressure on the pitcher than I have. Everyone is swinging the bat real well, so it gives the pitchers a lot of confidence to go out there and just throw strikes. Hopefully we'll carry it over to next weekend.''
Miami's pitching cost the Hurricanes early. Starting pitcher Iden Nazario was pulled after facing just seven batters. Nazario, who entered the game with an ERA of 6.57, pitched just 1/3 of an inning giving up four hits, five earned runs and walking two batters, having thrown 28 pitches. Eight of the Gators' first nine batters either scored a run or drove one in. The Gators had 21 hits in the first six innings.
Panteliodis pitched 4 2/3 innings, gave up four runs, one walk and threw 85 pitches, but did not get the win.
Miami coach Jim Morris was ejected at the end of the first inning after arguing a call - a decision by the umpire Morris later said "was uncalled for.''
"I watched the rest from the locker room,'' Morris said. "It was a long eight innings whether you were on the field or in the locker room.''I would like to congratulate Florida. They have a very good club. . . Florida outplayed us and they deserved to win.''