GAINESVILLE — With a trip to the College World Series on the line and facing archrival Miami at home, Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan declined to say this week who he would put on the mound to open Friday night's NCAA Super Region series.
Ultimately, he decided he needed "experience and defense."
Alonso High alum Alex Panteliodis got the call and didn't disappoint.
The sophomore pitched his first complete game in college, allowing three hits and two runs. He had 12 strikeouts and retired the final 14 batters in a 7-2 win over Miami in the first game of the best-of-three series.
The winner goes to this month's College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
"It all started with Alex, he was outstanding," O'Sullivan said. "He moved the ball in and out all night long. … I talked to him after the eighth and told him he needed to close it out so we could save our pen. And he did. He was outstanding."
Florida scored three runs in back-to-back innings to help seal the victory.
The Gators (46-15) jumped to an early lead after a controversial play in the third inning. Facing a 3-2 count and two outs, freshman Brian Johnson hit a shot at shortstop Stephen Perez, who appeared to make the catch and headed toward the dugout. But the umpire never made a call and Jonathan Piggot scored an unearned run. The umpires conferred but declined to overrule the call.
The next batter, catcher Mike Zunino, singled to left, scoring Preston Tucker and Austin Maddox (who was on base after an earlier error) for a 3-0 lead.
"No question that hurt," Miami coach Jim Morris said. "Big play. Big call. The next guy got a hit with two outs."
Miami (43-19) responded quickly when ACC player of the year Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer in the fourth to pull the 'Canes within one.
But Florida had another three-run inning in the fourth, and Panteliodis (11-2) made sure there would be no comeback for the Hurricanes.
"I wanted to go out as long as I could for our team to have a chance," Panteliodis said. "I had a little bit off-speed, then mainly fastballs after that. My team was behind me the whole time, they just kept talking to me. I was in it for them."
FSU wins with drama
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State's Mike McGee couldn't believe he took a strike down the middle on the first pitch he saw with two outs in the ninth.
"That was the one," McGee said he thought to himself.
But then he got another fastball on the outer half of the plate and hit it over the 30-foot fence in right-centerfield to give the Seminoles a 9-8 win over Vanderbilt in the first game of their best-of-three Super Region.
"I really didn't think I was going to get a pitch to hit," said McGee, whose team-high 15th home run ended a slugfest.
McGee's winning blast off Chase Reid was his third walkoff hit this season as FSU (46-17) got within a win of its 20th trip to the College World Series.
Daniel Bennett (5-1) pitched two innings of one-hit relief to collect the win.
Freshman outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski and son of the late former FSU star Mike Yastrzemski, homered in the eighth to give Vanderbilt an 8-7 lead. Florida State's Jayce Boyd countered in the bottom half to tie it and set up McGee's winner.
Sherman Johnson of Alonso went 2-for-5 with two RBIs for FSU. Zephyrhills grad Geoff Parker came in to relieve starter Sean Gilmartin but gave up four earned runs in 21/3 innings.
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com. Information from Times wires was used in this report.