The Gators did not get a no-hitter to start the NCAA Super Regional, but they settled for a Hudson Randall shutout. Florida (46-18) relied on Randall and a good day with the bats in a 7-1 victory against North Carolina State (43-19) on Saturday at McKethan Stadium.
“I felt like I had pretty good stuff today,” Randall said. “My fastball had a little bit more life, and everything was just a bit sharper this go-around. I felt good with everything.”
In his second start this postseason, Randall scattered six hits and struck out four batters in seven scoreless frames. During the postseason, Randall has surrendered one earned run on 14 hits in 12.2 innings. However, he has avoided more trouble with just one walk.
“Playing in college with these metal bats, teams are going to get hits; they’re going to get on base,” Randall said. “But it takes another hit to score them. So, I do everything I can to my ability to keep them from scoring and touching home.”
The Gators continued to swing the bats successfully after scoring 25 runs last weekend. Florida tallied seven runs on 10 hits, and NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player Casey Turgeon was the only UF player that did not record a hit.
A four-run third inning proved to be the decisive frame in the Gators’ win against the Wolfpack. After back-to-back base hits by Josh Tobias and Nolan Fontana, Preston Tucker plated Florida’s first run with a single up the middle.
After a passed ball allowed Tucker and Fontana to advance to second and third, respectively, an errant throw by Wolfpack shortstop Chris Diaz on a Mike Zunino grounder let both runners score.
Zunino, who reached second base on Diaz’s error, capped the Gators’ third-inning scoring on a two-out Daniel Pigott single.
“I knew that with two strikes, I’ve just got to put the ball in play,” Zunino said. “I had to whatever I could to get the run in and help my team out.”
Randall tossed the game’s first pitch at 2:05 p.m., but two rain delays lengthened the affair to five hours and 50 minutes. The first stoppage in play came during the bottom of the seventh at 4:20 p.m. The game did not resume until 6:23.
Fifteen minutes and a two-run homer by Mike Zunino later, the umpiring crew called a second rain delay in the top of the eighth. Play resumed at 7:26.
While the game was suspended for more than two hours Saturday, coach Kevin O’Sullivan did not let his players’ minds wander. The televisions in the UF locker room were tuned to other NCAA Super Regional games.
“It’s a time to relax, but also, you’ve got to focus,” Tucker said. “You don’t want to stray too far away from what the goal was. We were baseball, enjoying it and obviously come back ready to play.”
Jonathon Crawford will start Sunday against NC State freshman hurler Carlos Rodon, who is one of three USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award finalists along with Zunino. Rodon is 9-0 this season with a 1.61 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.
A win against the Wolfpack’s ace will send the Gators to Omaha, Neb., for 2012 the College World Series.
“He’s a great pitcher,” Zunino said. “It’s one of those (games) where you just have to be ready to go. … I’m just going to try to be selective and just try to get some pitches [I] can handle and not try to do too much.”
Contact Joe Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.