Gator baseball team's season comes to stunning end
No. 3 seed Southern Miss rallied from a 6-1 deficit Sunday night to defeat Florida 7-6 and clinch the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional at McKethan Stadium.
With the victory, the Golden Eagles advanced to their first College World Series, while the Gators' (42-22) season ended in disappointment.
Southern Miss (40-24) scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth off UF closer Billy Bullock, including the go-ahead run, to seal the win. The Gators had an opportunity to end the inning with a double play and the game tied at six, but the throw from second to first base short-hopped and freshman first baseman Preston Tucker couldn't make the play, which allowed Adam Doleac to score the winning run.
"We had a great gameplan against their starter,'' UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Once again their bullpen put up six zeroes in a row and we just quite coulnd't distance outselves. If you'd have told me going into the day that we'd have a two run lead with six outs to go and
we'd have Bullock rested and ready to go, I'd have felt pretty good about it.''
Prior to Saturday's first game of the Super Regional, the Florida players said they expected Southern Miss to be a tough opponent, despite its lower seed in the NCAA tourney field, because of its success in the Atlanta Regional.
"Coming in we knew that they were going to be a scrappy team just like ourselves,'' UF senior Brandon McArthur said. "They battled. Every single person that went out there to perform it seemed like they were on a mission and we just got to give them a lot of credit. They came
in to our place, a pretty tough place to play, and they got the job done.''
The Golden Eagles capped an impropable run that included defeating Georgia Tech on its home field in the NCAA Regional.
“I’m just so proud of our team,'' Southern Miss coach Corky Palmer said. "Winning the Super Regional the way we did it and to come back against a fine Florida team at home is amazing. To be down 6-1 and come back and win that game was special. It’s been a great ride. I don’t know what happened three weeks ago but those seniors bonded and we just grew up each week. We’ve earned everything that we have got. . . This is quite an accomplishment for our school to go to Omaha. Seven-straight regionals are nothing to sneeze at, but to take this step to Omaha will do wonders for our program.”