Top-seeded Florida wins big
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- All the Florida baseball team needed to start looking like the best team in the country again was for June to begin.
The top-seeded Gators rolled through the Gainesville Regional this weekend, capping it by routing second-seeded Georgia Tech 15-3 on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium. Florida (45-18) will host either Vanderbilt or NC State in a Super Regional next weekend.
Florida struggled through the second half of the Southeastern Conference season, especially offensively. But the Gators were as dominant the past three days as they were when they started the season 23-2.
Florida outscored its opponents by a combined 25-5 in the regional and pounded out 28 hits, 12 of which went for extra bases (four home runs). The pitching staff struck out 20, walked only two, and finished the weekend with a 1.67 ERA -- and that's including the 13.50 ERA from reliever Johnny Magliozzi, who gave up a run in 2/3 of an inning Sunday.
Florida only committed one error and received solid defense from third baseman Josh Tobias, shortstop Nolan Fontana, second baseman Casey Turgeon and first baseman Vickash Ramjit throughout the weekend.
"I think this team is, to be honest with you, tired of hearing about how people have not thought they've played up to their potential," said Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan, who is riding a 12-game winning streak in NCAA regional games dating back to a loss to Florida State in 2008. "We're the No. 1 national seed and we're using that as motivation moving forward, to be honest with you."
That was evident from the start of the regional when Jonathon Crawford threw a no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman on Friday night.
On Sunday, Florida's offense was the star. The Gators hammered out 11 hits and got a two-run double by center fielder Daniel Pigott, a two-run single by left fielder Justin Shafer and a three-run home run by Mike Zunino to take a 7-0 lead through two innings.
Florida broke open the game open with a seven-run fifth inning that was keyed by Tobias' two-run double.
"They're just a very balanced team," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. "They have great pitching (and) tremendous infield defense. Obviously they have a great catcher, and they can hit. We tried to work them over, even with (pitcher) Buck Farmer (on Saturday), but they didn't strike out much and they put the ball in play. And they have some guys that can hurt you if you make a mistake.
"Good in all phases of the game. ... They can hit up and down the lineup and (have) very, very deep pitching."
Turgeon was named the regional's Most Outstanding Player after hitting .600 (6 for 10) with a pair of doubles and five RBIs. Zunino (two home runs, five RBIs), Fontana (.364, two RBIs), right fielder Preston Tucker (.385, two RBIs), and Crawford also were named to the all-region team.
This will be the fourth straight year Florida has hosted a Super Regional. The Gators are trying to make their third consecutive trip to the College World Series for the first time in school history.
While Florida lived up to its No. 1 seed in regional play, several others weren't so lucky Sunday.
Texas A&M, Rice, Purdue, Virginia, and North Carolina each were knocked out.Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.