After getting two hits to start off Saturday’s opener against TCU, the Florida State bats remained mainly silent for the rest of the day. That wasn’t the case on Monday, as roommates Tyler Holt and Mike McGee were able to lead a Florida State onslaught to eliminate Florida with the 8-5 victory, and will face the loser of tonight’s UCLA-TCU contest. Asked about the rivalry with Florida, Tyler Holt said, “A wins a win, whether its Florida or UCLA, either one of us are going home. I’m glad were staying
around. My freshman year we got pushed out by a rival and it feels really good to be on the other side this time.”
McGee, the John Olerud Award Finalist, drove in 4 RBI on the day, highlighted by a 3rd inning 3-run homerun to the left field bleachers for 16th on the season. Holt led off the Florida State half of the first with a solo homerun off the green monster just left of center, his 13th of the season. The duo combined for 2 HR, 5 runs scored and 6 RBI, while McGee recorded his 13th save of the season.
Florida went with Hudson Randall(8-4) , which many were questioning coming in considering his checkered past against the Noles this season. With today’s 2 2/3 IP, 4 H and 4 ER, Randall had a 9.00 ERA against Florida State this season while giving up 17 hits over his 12 innings of work. The Seminoles strategy was to make Randall pitch strikes, and that showed when in the Holt and Johnson led off the third with consecutive walks as McGee capitalized with his 3 run shot.
Despite giving up 4 free passes in his 5 1/3 innings of work, Brian Busch (6-2) was able to shut down the Florida offense for the most part, acknowledging that, “anytime you walk 4 guys in a game and only give up 2 runs you’re pretty fortunate.” He saw the minimum amount of batters in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings after giving up an RBI single in the first to Austin Maddox. Busch gave up only 2 hits, the second of which went for a Jonatahan Pigott solo shot in the 5th. He started off the game rocky, giving up 5 pitch walks to consecutive batters, but salvaged the inning by only giving up one run.
Mike Zunino has struggled since getting a hit in every game in the regionals, and was 1 for his last 13 before his infield single with the game already out of hand in the 8th. In today’s game, Zunino struck out to end the first and hit into a double play on a liner at Brian Busch which he caught in self defense. The catcher had an opportunity to make amends in the 9th as the go ahead run at the plate with the bases loaded, but hit into yet another double play off a well hit ball. Mike McGee even commented during the post game presser about how he knew that Zunino had hit 2 balls hard earlier, and thought he was in trouble when the ball came off the bat. Add in the wild pitches from Saturday behind the plate, and was a frustrating few days for the Freshman. He’s got a pretty good chance to get back to Omaha, though.
Coach O’Sullivan seems confident that the Gators will be back sooner than later. “You get a taste and you want to come back again. There’s things that we all need to prepare ourselves better for if we get this opportunity again. I do like our team coming back, obviously it’s been well documented that we’ve got a young team. I know this isn’t going to sit well with them, and we have some good players coming in as well. Like anyone else, we want to get back here as soon as possible.”
The Gators have a great Freshman core coming back, wth SEC Freshman of the Year Austin Maddox leading the way. As for Florida State, it’s on to another elimination game on Wednesday. We’ll see in a few short hours who they face.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HOLLY ROBBINS