A pair of errors from Bethune-Cookman first baseman Danny Rodriguez put Mike Rivera and Nelson Maldonado on second and third base, respectively, in the top of the sixth.
The Wildcats were furious, claiming Rivera interfered on the catch and should’ve been called out. In the heat of the play, Rodriguez threw the ball away at second, allowing Florida’s runners to get into scoring position.
The Gators quickly made Bethune-Cookman pay for those errors.
On the next at-bat, pitcher Austin Langworthy blasted a home run over the right field wall, giving UF a 3-0 lead and providing Florida with its first score of the game.
“It was awesome, we needed that because we were playing a little tense in the beginning,” third baseman Jonathan India said. “That was a great at bat by him to come through like that for us.”
Langworthy’s shot, alongside a pivotal career-high four innings pitched, helped Florida advance to the NCAA Super Regional with a 6-1 win over Bethune-Cookman on Monday at McKethan Stadium.
The Gators benefitted from three solid pitching performances. Kirby McMullen got the start, throwing 2.2 innings and allowing just three hits and striking out one batter.
Florida then turned to Langworthy, who was in left field at the time, to come in and provide a few innings. He gave them enough time until Michael Byrne could close out the game for the Gators.
Langworthy gave up just two hits and one run over four innings, and struck out three batters. And while he was on the mound keeping the Wildcats from taking over a tight game, the Williston native collected two important hits, including the home run, to allow the Gators to break the game wide open.
“Pound the strike zone,” Langworthy said. “That was my mindset. Simple as that.”
Byrne entered in the seventh inning and closed out the game by letting up just two hits. That was his 16th save of the season.
Florida’s offense took a while to get going, but once it did, it allowed the Gators to take full control of the game.
UF started with back-to-back singles from India and Dalton Guthrie in the top of the first, but couldn’t put any runs on the board. The Gators would only record one more hit until the sixth inning, when Langworthy gave Florida a 3-0 lead.
Guthrie tacked a run on in the seventh with a single that scored in India, and outfielder Nick Horvath sent one deep to allow Langworthy to tag up from third. The Gators added one more insurance run for good measure in the ninth, with Maldonado singling in India with two outs.
Despite a slow start, Florida benefitted from three hits from Maldonado and two hits from India, Guthrie and Langworthy. The last time the Gators had at least ten hits was in a 12-3 win against Mississippi State on May 26 in the SEC Tournament.
“They gave us everything we could handle these last two days,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We won a very emotional game Saturday night against South Florida. Marist game us everything we could handle as well. That was not an easy regional for us, but we figured it out.”
The Gators can now look ahead to a looming matchup with Wake Forest in the NCAA Super Regional. The Demon Deacons enter the series following a three-game sweep in the Winston-Salem Regional.