After the hectic pace of the last two weeks, University of Florida right-hander John Burke will have two fewer things to worry about today: the draft and Fresno State's Bobby Jones. Burke, the ace of the Gators' pitching staff, likely will not have to face off with Jones, Collegiate Baseball's player of the year, today when the two teams meet at 4:06 p.m. in the losers bracket of the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Fresno State (42-22) plans to use Jones in relief and save him for a possible matchup with Louisiana State on Wednesday. The Bulldogs will start Steve Soderstrom (2-3, 5.81 ERA) against the Gators.
The winner of today's game, which will be televised on ESPN, will play LSU. The loser will be knocked out of the tournament.
That, and news from pro baseball's amateur draft, should take some of the pressure off Burke (8-5, 2.30 ERA). He was selected Monday as the sixth overall pick by the Houston Astros.
"I've always dreamed about pitching in the majors," Burke said. "I'm excited by the news, but I have to keep in perspective why we're here _ to play in the College World Series."
Burke, who lasted just four innings in Florida's first-round loss to LSU, will have to regain his form in order for the fifth-seeded Gators (50-20) to advance past No. 8 Fresno State.
Both teams have one loss in the double-elimination tournament.
Fresno State lost to LSU 15-3 Saturday.
Long Beach St. 12, Clemson 11
OMAHA, Neb. _ Willy Speakman homered leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Monday to give Long Beach State a 12-11 victory over No. 2 Clemson (60-12), eliminating the highest remaining seed in the College World Series.
Sixth-seeded Long Beach State (45-21), advances to today's elimination game against the loser of Monday night's Creighton-Wichita State game.
Howard downs Manatee
in junior college final
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. _ Frank Rodriguez struck out 17 Saturday night as Howard, Texas (58-11), won its first National Junior College World Series with a 7-2 triumph over Manatee Community College (46-7).
_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.