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Florida Gators defeat Miami Hurricanes 8-2 in NCAA baseball tournament; Florida State Seminoles also win

DOLPHIN DRIVE: Matt Loosen delivers during Jacksonville’s victory over Bethune-Cookman that kept the Dolphins alive.

Associated Press

DOLPHIN DRIVE: Matt Loosen delivers during Jacksonville’s victory over Bethune-Cookman that kept the Dolphins alive.

GAINESVILLE — Over the course of Florida baseball history and 10 NCAA Region appearances, the Gators never have advanced when they faced Miami. Florida took one step toward changing that Saturday.

The Gators rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Hurricanes 8-2 at McKethan Stadium. It was Florida's 27th come-from-behind victory. Miami (37-21) plays Jacksonville (37-21) at 1 p.m. today. The Gators (41-20) play the winner at 6:30.

Florida pitcher, and Tampa native, Stephen Locke made his third career NCAA start, pitching 71/3 innings, giving up six hits, two runs (zero earned) and had three strikeouts and one walk. Locke (5-2) earned his first postseason victory.

"It's good to get this (first NCAA win) under your belt," Locke said. "I like to be the guy some people look to to go get a win."

Freshman first baseman and former Tampa Plant standout Preston Tucker's third-inning RBI tied the single-season record (80) set by Ryan Shealy in 2002.

JACKSONVILLE 8, B-CU 7: Chuck Opachich, a 175-pound second baseman, hammered a slider into the leftfield bleachers to lead off the eighth for his second home run in 623 career at-bats to help the Dolphins oust Bethune-Cookman. The Wildcats (32-28) fell to 1-22 all time in the NCAA Tournament.

TALLAHASSEE REGION: Freshman Sean Gilmartin pitched a complete game and Jason Stidham had five RBIs in Florida State's 8-2 victory over Georgia as the Seminoles reached the championship round.

FSU (44-16) led 4-0 before Georgia senior Trevor Holder settled down to retire 12 consecutive batters. Gilmartin allowed two runs on five hits.

Today, Georgia (38-23) faces Ohio State (41-18), which defeated Marist 6-4 in an elimination game. The winner must beat Florida State twice to advance to the Super Regions.

"It was a game that you really wish you could get excited about, but you can't because there's a lot of baseball left to be played," FSU coach Mike Martin said.

Other sports

SOFTBALL: Alabama (53-10) scored eight runs in the second and set records for most runs scored in a World Series game and most lopsided victory in the event's 27-year history by ousting Arizona 14-0. The Crimson Tide then eliminated Arizona State 6-2 to set up a meeting with SEC rival and No. 1 seed Florida today for a spot in the best-of-three title series. The Gators (62-3) need to win one of two. Also, Georgia (45-11) eliminated unseeded Missouri 5-2 then knocked off Michigan 7-5. The Bulldogs face Washington for a final berth.

TRACK AND FIELD: The FSU women and Florida men won East Region championships in Greensboro, N.C. The Seminoles had 71 points to beat Penn State by 11; the Gators had 84 to top South Carolina by 22.

Kimberly Williams took the long jump and triple jump for FSU, which also had wins by Susan Kuijken (1,500 meters) Pilar McShine (800) and the 4x100 relay. Wharton graduate Natalie Moser (pole vault) and Mariam Kevkhishvili (shot put) won for UF and Miami's Murielle Ahoure won the 100 and 200.

Florida didn't win any men's events but had 11 top fours, including seven runnerup finishes. FSU had wins by Charles Clark (200) and the 4x400 relay, and Bethune-Cookman's Ronnie Ash won the 110-meter hurdles. South Florida was 42nd, courtesy of Michael Kursteiner tying for sixth in the high jump.

Also, former Boca Ciega star Neidra Covington of TCU earned an NCAA berth in the triple jump at the Midwest Region meet in Norman, Okla. The NCAA Championship meet is June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.

GOLF: Texas A&M's Bronson Burgoon hit a gap wedge from the rough to within 3 inches of the 18th hole to win his match in Toledo, Ohio, and clinch the first men's golf title for the Aggies. The senior lost the previous four holes to Arkansas' Andrew Landry before that shot. Landry conceded the tap-in for birdie, then missed a 35-footer that would have forced extra holes as A&M won 3 and 2.

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.

Florida Gators defeat Miami Hurricanes 8-2 in NCAA baseball tournament; Florida State Seminoles also win 05/30/09 [Last modified: Sunday, May 31, 2009 12:26am]
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