GAINESVILLE — Former Plant High standout Preston Tucker's two-run homer in the ninth sealed Florida's 6-2 region victory over Georgia Tech in the NCAA tournament Saturday night before 4,584 at McKethan Stadium.
The Gators (44-18) play tonight at 6 against the winner of today's elimination game between Georgia Tech and College of Charleston. A win puts UF in the Super Region. A loss forces a rematch for the berth at 7 p.m. Monday.
Saturday's game included controversy. Tied at 1 in the bottom of the third, the Gators believed they had the third out on Hudson Randall's strikeout of Jake Davies. But after a lengthy consultation, umpires ruled the ball was tipped and not caught by catcher Mike Zunino.
Hudson, with two runners on, eventually struck out Davies.
Zunino then led off the fourth with a homer, and Florida added two more runs in the inning.
"That was a huge emotional swing," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "This time of year, momentum is a big thing."
More controversy came in the fifth, leading to the ejection of Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall.
Florida's Nolan Fontana, on first after a walk, slid hard into second baseman Thomas Smith on Tucker's grounder to short. Fontana, believing he was out, headed to the dugout. But the umpire had called Fontana safe.
"The umpire told me timeout was called because both the runner and Smith were banged up on the play," Hall said. "I felt (the umpire) bailed the runner out by calling time."
Randall, an Atlanta native, allowed one run and eight hits over 5⅔ innings to earn the win. Tucker's home run was his 15th of the season and 10th in NCAA play to extend his school record.
Charleston stayed alive by ousting Bethune-Cookman 8-2.
CORAL GABLES — Kennen Maddox drove in four as Missouri State eliminated Miami 12-2.
The Hurricanes (36-23) had won 13 consecutive region tournaments when serving as the host. But Friday, they lost 10-2 to Stony Brook. Saturday, the Bears scored seven in the first, including Maddox's two-run double.
Miami failed to win a tournament game for the first time since 1993, and the most recent of its four national titles came in 2001.
"Our fans, along with me, are very spoiled," coach Jim Morris told the Miami Herald. "I know they're frustrated. I know they're calling for my head. I'm not crazy. I've heard people say that. I can only say we've got to get better. We're not trying any less hard than we did when we went to the World Series 11 times out of my first 15 years or six times in a row."
Miami's elimination opens the door for UCF. The Knights beat Stony Brook 9-8 as Jeramy Matos' three-run homer in the sixth broke a 5-5 tie. UCF has two chances to reach the Super Region, the first after Missouri State and Stony Brook meet today.
FSU wins again
TALLAHASSEE — James Ramsey's grand slam highlighted Florida State's 8-1 win over Samford. After consecutive two-out walks, Ramsey, who drove in both runs of Friday's 2-1 win over UAB, sent a shot to right to make it 8-0.
FSU (45-15) has two chances to reach the Super Region. The first comes tonight, when it faces the winner of today's game between Samford and Mississippi State. Mississippi State eliminated UAB 8-1. Wes Rea's two-run double highlighted a five-run sixth.
TCU scores 4 TDs: TCU scored 22 runs over the final four innings to beat Dayton 28-12 in College Station, Texas. The Horned Frogs trailed 9-6 after five. But they scored seven in the sixth, six in the seventh and nine in the ninth.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.