OMAHA, Neb. — Nathan Bannister matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in seven innings and Arizona capitalized on Miami starter Michael Mediavilla's rocky first inning for a 5-1 victory Saturday night in the College World Series.
The Wildcats (45-21), in the CWS for the first time since winning the 2012 national title, face Oklahoma State on Monday night in a Bracket 1 winners game. The No. 3 seed Hurricanes (50-13) face UC Santa Barbara in an elimination game that afternoon.
Mediavilla hit two of Arizona's first five batters and issued a bases-loaded walk before Jared Oliva's two-run single made it 3-0. Zach Gibbons' two-run double in the fifth increased Arizona's lead to 5-1.
Bannister, who made his 13th straight start of at least six innings, confounded Miami batters by mixing his curveball with an upper-80s fastball.
Miami, which has come from behind to win 23 games, couldn't sustain its offense against Bannister, a Seattle Mariners draft pick. The Hurricanes had runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings against Bannister and again in the eighth against Cameron Ming but pushed across just one run.
Bannister (12-2) struck out Edgar Michelangeli all three times he faced him. Michelangeli was the hero of Miami's Super Region-clinching win over Boston College, hitting a three-run homer and grand slam.
Mediavilla (11-2) had his worst outing since he gave up eight runs in 12/3 innings against Duke on April 16.
Gators ride big arms
Florida's pitching staff is widely considered the best in the country, potentially in college baseball history.
The Gators had five pitchers selected in the top 108 picks of the Major League Baseball draft last week — plenty of talent and depth to make another deep run in the College World Series and possibly win the program's first national championship.
UF has been close before in Omaha, Neb. But this time the top-seeded Gators feel like that elusive title is realistically within reach. For coach Kevin O'Sullivan's group, it's essentially 60 feet, 6 inches away.
"There's quite a few guys on this pitching staff that have a chance to pitch for a long time," O'Sullivan said. "It's not easy to kind of get all these arms together."
Florida enters the CWS having not allowed a run in 22 consecutive innings and with a 1.50 ERA in the NCAA tournament going into tonight's game against Coastal Carolina, which leads the nation in home runs (94).
"The best pitching staff in the country against the team with the most home runs," Florida ace Logan Shore said. "It will be a good game No. 1."
The Gators, who rank sixth nationally with a 2.93 ERA, could have the advantage considering TD Ameritrade Park has yielded just 40 home runs during the CWS in the five years that it has been open.
The junior Shore (12-0, 2.24 ERA, No. 47 overall pick in draft) starts tonight, followed by sophomore and former Alonso High standout Alex Faedo (13-2, 3.25) in Game 2 for the Gators.
Other standouts on the UF staff: junior A.J. Puk (2-3, 3.05, No. 6 in draft); Dane Dunning (6-3, 2.40, No. 29 in draft); Shaun Anderson (3-0, 1.00, school-record-tying 13 saves this season, No. 88 in draft).
Oklahoma St. 1, UCSB 0: Thomas Hatch threw a complete game and Garrett Benge singled in the only run as Oklahoma State opened the CWS by blanking UC Santa Barbara. Hatch extended his shutout streak to 26 innings with his fourth complete game and third shutout of the season for the Cowboys (42-20).