June 24, 2011
Late rally carries Florida to
CWS championship series
By Phil Stanton
(photos by Jimmy Jones)
OMAHA, Neb. – Second-seeded Florida scored
a pair in the bottom of the eighth and held on to edge
sixth-seeded Vanderbilt 6-4 Friday afternoon at the 2011 College
World Series at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Gators (53-17) advance to the CWS
championship series for the second time and the first since
2005. Florida will face fourth-seeded South Carolina beginning
on Monday, June 27, at 7 p.m. CT.
With the score tied at 4, Daniel Pigott had a
leadoff single in the eighth for the Gators. . Cody Dent and
Nolan Fontana both put down bunts that went for base hits,
loading the bases and ending the day for VU starter Sonny Gray.
Preston Tucker had a long single to left to plate Pigott with
the go-ahead run. Mike Zunino struck out swinging and the ball
got by the catcher, allowing Dent to score on the wild pitch as
UF took a 6-4 lead.
Gray (12-4) allowed 12 hits and six earned runs
in seven-plus innings with five walks and eight strikeouts. He
threw 132 pitches.
“I thought the Abs by our hitters were really
good,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We drove the
pitch count up on Sonny. That was our goal because we knew we
weren’t going to just sit there and bang away on him.”
Closer Austin Maddox (3-0), pitching for the
first time since May 29, allowed two hits in 1.2 scoreless
innings to earn the victory. It was the fifth win in six
meetings for the Gators against Vanderbilt.
“We had aspirations of taking it a step further,”
VU head coach Tim Corbin said. “There’s no complaints with the
effort level of the kids. We did everything we possibly could.”
The Commodores got on the board in the top of the
first as Aaron Westlake deposited a 1-0 pitch in the bullpen in
right, his 18th home run of the season, to give Vanderbilt a 1-0
(right) worked out of a jam in the bottom of the second. Zunino
lead off with a bunt single and moved to second on a walk to
Brian Johnson. Josh Adams laid down a bunt on the left side that
Gray fielded and threw to third to erase Zunino. Westlake made a
nice stop on a grounder in the hole at first by Tyler Thompson,
tossing to Gray for the second out. Gray coaxed Pigott to ground
out to second to keep the Commodores on top 1-0.
Florida tied it in the third as Dent had a
leadoff triple to right center and scored on a groundout by
The Gators took the lead in the fourth. Josh
Adams and Tyler Thompson had consecutive one-out singles and a
two-out walk to Dent loaded the bases. Fontana grounded a base
hit up the middle to bring home Adams and Thompson as UF took a
Florida added to its lead in the sixth as Pigott
had a leadoff double and eventually scored on a double play to
extend the margin to 4-1.
Vandy battled back in the
top of the seventh. Mike Yastrzemski had a one-out single, went
to third on a two-out base hit by Conrad Gregor and scored on a
single by Connor Harrell. Tony Kemp drew a bases-loaded walk to
force in Gregor as the Commodores pulled to within one at 4-3.
The Commodores tied it in the eighth. Curt Casali
had a one-out single up the middle and moved to third as
Yastrzemski and Jason Esposito had infield hits. Gregor was hit
by a pitch to force in Casali and knot the score at 4-4.
Pigott and Dent both had
two hits and two runs for the Gators. Fontana and Tucker both
knocked in a pair.