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Florida opens College World Series with 8-4 victory over Texas

Florida’s Brian Johnson, standing on second, motions that his two-run double in the seventh was actually a home run off the top of the wall. After the game, the NCAA said he was right.

Associated Press

Florida’s Brian Johnson, standing on second, motions that his two-run double in the seventh was actually a home run off the top of the wall. After the game, the NCAA said he was right.

OMAHA, Neb. — Brian Johnson delivered the big blow this time.

Playing for the first time in three weeks after suffering a freak concussion, Johnson broke open a close game with a two-run double in Florida's 8-4 victory over Texas at the College World Series on Saturday night.

"Sully talked to me before the at-bat," Johnson said of coach Kevin O'Sullivan. "He said it's going to be a big at-bat for the game. So I just went up there really looking for one pitch I could drive. And I ended up getting that pitch.

"I was really excited to get back out there after three weeks not being able to play."

Johnson, the Gators' designated hitter and No. 2 starter, was knocked out by a throw from catcher Mike Zunino while pitching in the SEC tournament May 28. Zunino, Johnson's roommate, tripped trying to throw out a runner at second base and hit Johnson in the back of the head.

It turned out Johnson's big hit in the seventh inning Saturday should have been ruled a home run. Replays showed that the ball bounced back into play after striking the railing above the yellow line atop the right-center wall. NCAA umpire coordinator Gene McArtor said in a postgame statement that the umpires' decision to hold Johnson at second base was wrong. Umpires aren't allowed to use video review.

"I thought it went out," O'Sullivan said. "But you don't know. It's a tough call."

UF (51-17) faces SEC rival Vanderbilt in the winners' bracket on Monday night (7, ESPN2). No. 7 seed Texas (49-18) meets North Carolina in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hudson Randall (11-3) threw 62/3 strong innings against the Longhorns, who are in the CWS for a record 34th time.

Randall scattered five hits, walked none and struck out five. Only one of the four runs against him was earned.

Florida roughed up Taylor Jungmann (13-3), the Milwaukee Brewers' first-round draft pick who gave up five runs in 41/3 innings, his shortest start of the season.

Vanderbilt wins debut

Vanderbilt was no nervous newcomer to the College World Series.

Connor Harrell hit the first CWS home run in the new TD Ameritrade Park to break a sixth-inning tie and three relievers held North Carolina scoreless on three hits the last five innings in a 7-3 victory.

Conrad Gregor tied it with two outs in the sixth with his double off the top of the wall, and Harrell followed with his two-run homer for the Commodores (53-10).

North Carolina (50-15) stranded 16.

NEVADA RECEIVER SHOT: Nevada starting wide receiver Brandon Wimberly was shot in the abdomen early Saturday in a fight between a group of his football teammates and another group of men. ESPN reported that his wounds were serious but not life-threatening. Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault said Wimberly, 22, had surgery.

INDIANA HIRES CHEANEY: Former star Calbert Cheaney, the 1993 national player of the year. is returning to Indiana, hired by coach Tom Crean as the director of basketball operations.

Florida opens College World Series with 8-4 victory over Texas 06/18/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 19, 2011 12:21am]
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