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Jonathon Crawford throws no-hitter for Florida Gators in NCAA tournament

Florida catcher Mike Zunino starts to lift Jonathon Crawford after the final out of a no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman.

Associated Press

Florida catcher Mike Zunino starts to lift Jonathon Crawford after the final out of a no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman.

GAINESVILLE — You can't say Florida's Jonathon Crawford doesn't know how to make the most of an opportunity.

Nearly one year after he failed to be included on the College World Series roster, the sophomore pitched a no-hitter to beat Bethune-Cookman 4-0 Friday in the NCAA region tournament opener at McKethan Stadium.

It was the Gators' fifth solo no-hitter (eighth overall), first since John Burke against Furman in the 1991 East Region and only the seventh by any team in tournament history. Burke's also was the last in the tournament.

Crawford, who wasn't part of the three-man weekend rotation, threw 98 pitches (70 for strikes), struck out five and walked one (who was then caught stealing).

"My defense played really well," said Crawford, 20, a right-hander from Okeechobee who entered 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA this season. "I threw one changeup, but it was pretty much fastballs and sliders. When I came in after the eighth, it kind of hit me and I got really excited and nervous all at the same time."

Last season, Crawford pitched just 3⅔ innings and sat while Florida was swept by South Carolina in the World Series final.

"It was a very tough decision," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "He went off to the Northwoods (summer) league. He never complained. He was much-improved this fall and very open-minded to some changes. Now 12 months later, he starts the first game of the regional and throws a no-hitter."

Among 27 batters, Crawford threw 20 first-pitch strikes.

"Crawford did an unbelievable job," Wildcats coach Jason Beverlin said. "That's probably an understatement."

Casey Turgeon drove in four, including a three-run homer in the fifth. And the Dunedin High grad made a leaping catch on a liner to second for the final out.

"I jumped as high as I could," he said. "And luckily, I got it."

Florida faces Georgia Tech, which beat College of Charleston 8-4, today. Jake Davies and Brandon Thomas each hit three-run homers for the Yellow Jackets.

FSU wins: James Ramsey drove in both runs as host Florida State beat UAB 2-1. He singled in Sherman Johnson, an Alonso High grad, in the third and doubled him home in the fifth. Gage Smith earned the win with 3⅔ scoreless innings of relief. Robert Benincasa, an Armwood High grad, got the save. FSU faces Samford, which beat Mississippi State 5-0, tonight (ESPN2). Charles Basford, a graduate of nearby Tallahassee Lincoln High, allowed five hits over eight innings for Samford.

Miami routed: Miami made three errors in losing to Stony Brook 10-2. The Hurricanes lost a home region opener for the first time since 1978, a span of 21 games, and face Missouri State in an elimination game today. Missouri State lost 2-1 to UCF. Ronnie Richardson homered in the first and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth on Chris Taladay's bloop single. Both hits came off Nick Petree, whose 0.92 ERA (11 earned runs over 107⅓ innings) entered Friday first in the nation.

marathon: Alex Miklos' triple in the 21st lifted Kent State past Kentucky 7-6 in Gary, Ind. The only longer tournament game was Texas' 3-2 win over Boston College in 25 innings on May 30, 2009.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Jonathon Crawford throws no-hitter for Florida Gators in NCAA tournament 06/02/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 2, 2012 1:25am]

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