Omaha, Neb. - After each team dropped its NCAA College World Series opener on Saturday, Florida (47-19) and Kent State (46-19) will battle to stay alive in Bracket Two on Monday afternoon. The game will be at 5 p.m. on ESPN2 and can be heard on Country 103.7 The Gator with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert. On the second day of the double-elimination tournament, the Gators fell to South Carolina, 7-3, while the Golden Flashes were defeated by Arkansas, 8-1.
Junior Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.), arguably the most accomplished postseason pitcher in school history, will be on the mound for UF and will face Kent State junior Ryan Bores (9-3, 3.35). In 15 starts this season, Randall is 9-2 with a 2.61 earned run average and has 61 strikeouts and 10 walks. He has permitted two runs or less in 11 of his starts, including the last five in a row. Randall is 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA in his NCAA Tournament appearances this year, notching wins over Georgia Tech (5.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 5 K, 1 BB) and NC State (7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 K, 0 BB).
Over his nine career NCAA Tourney starts, Randall is 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA. In a span of 57.2 innings, he has registered 49 strikeouts and issued eight walks. Randall’s totals for innings pitched, strikeouts, games started and victories are all Florida records. He will be making his fourth career CWS start.
6/21/10 - Game 2 - Florida State (L) - 2.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 K, 2 BB
6/18/11 - Game 1 - Texas (W) - 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
6/27/11 - Game 1 of Finals - South Carolina (ND) - 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 K, 1 BB
Kent State will become the 15th different team that Florida has faced in its eight trips to the CWS. The Orange and Blue has an 11-16 (.407) all-time record in Omaha’s signature event and is seeking to end a three-game slide at TD Ameritrade Park.
The setback to the Gamecocks dropped the Gators to 3-5 (.375) in their openers at the College World Series. In the four previous times when it has been on the short end in game one, Florida has gone 2-2 (.500). UF emerged victorious in 1988 (6-5 over California) and 1991 (5-0 over Florida State), but was eliminated in 1998 by Southern California (12-10 in 11 innings) and in 2010 by Florida State (8-5).
South Carolina overcame a 2-0 deficit with a five-run fifth inning on its way to a 7-3 victory over Florida in front of 25,291 fans on Saturday night at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. With their 22nd-straight NCAA Tournament victory, including 12 in a row at the CWS, the Gamecocks advance to meet SEC rival Arkansas (45-20) on Monday night in the winner’s bracket contest at 9 p.m.
Sophomore Erik Payne (1-for-4) delivered a bases-clearing three-run triple, while junior LB Dantzler (2-for-5, two runs) had an RBI double and junior Chase Vergason (2-for-5) added a run-scoring single in the fifth-inning surge that helped USC seize control of the contest.
Senior Michael Roth (8-1) scattered seven hits and yielded three runs over 6.1 innings to pick up the victory and was followed to the mound by junior Tyler Webb (0.2 IP) and senior Matt Price, who notched three strikeouts and gave up two hits over two scoreless innings to collect his 12th save of the year. Gator junior left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (8-5) surrendered eight hits and five runs over four-plus innings to take the loss. Senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) had provided UF with a 2-0 lead courtesy of a two-out, two-run double in the third inning.
A trio of freshmen accounted for five of Florida’s nine hits against South Carolina. Left fielder Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) was 2-for-4 and scored a run, third baseman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) was 2-for-3 with a run and Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) had a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning.
Tucker continued to enhance his reputation as one of the Gators’ top postseason hitters by going 2-for-5 and driving in a pair of runs in his club’s CWS opener. In six NCAA Tournament games this year, he leads the squad with a .400 (10-for-25) clip, with eight runs and six RBI. Tucker is hitting .369 (45-for-122) in 29 career NCAA Tourney games and holds school records in career at bats (122), hits (45), RBI (31), runs (29), homers (11) and doubles (10). Entering the matchup with Kent State, he is sporting an eight-game hitting streak in which he is 13-for-35 (.371) with 12 runs and six RBI.
Over the past three years, the Gators have a 147-55 (.728) record, the top three-year run in school history. Included in this stretch are three-consecutive College World Series appearances (Florida had five trips to Omaha previously), three-straight Gainesville Super Regional and Regional crowns and back-to-back SEC Championships in 2010 and 2011.