The Florida Gators, the number one team in the country, survived a hard fought battle from NC State and are headed to their third straight College World Series. The Gators defeated the Wolfpack, 9-8 in ten innings.
Daniel Pigott broke the 7-7 tie with a solo homerun to lead off the 10th inning. Tobias Harris added much needed insurance with a two out RBI single.
NC State came right back in the bottom of the 10th inning. Trea Turner drove in a run to cut the deficit to one run with a sac fly. With the tying run on second base, Chris Diaz was called out on strikes and the dog pile celebration began for Florida.
So how did they get into extra innings and a 1pm ET start ending so late (after 7pm ET)?
The game in Gainesville started with a quick pitcher’s duel between Florida’s Jonathon Crawford (who threw a no-hitter in his last start) and NC State’s Carlos Rodon (who is a Golden Spikes Award finalist). Into the bottom of the third inning, the only base runner for either team reached on an NC State error. Then the lightning and rain came, halting the game for well over two hours.
When the game resumed, Rodon was done but Crawford returned to the mound (but his command was lacking). The Wolfpack jumped on Crawford with two doubles in the bottom of the 3rd inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Florida jumped on NC State reliever (or normal starter) Anthony Tzamtzis right away. He threw just five pitches and allowed a homerun and back-to-back doubles. He then allowed an RBI double to Chris Turgeon that gave Florida the lead and ended his day. In came Ryan Wilkins, who pitched a ton last weekend in the regionals.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Brett Austin collected his second double of the game, this one drove in two runs to cut the Wolfpack deficit to 4-3. After an intentional walk, Crawford’s day was over.
Diaz tied the game at 4-4 with a solo homerun (his second of the season) in the 5th inning. Danny Canela delivered a two out RBI bloop single in the 7th inning to give NC State a 5-4 lead.
The lead was short-lived, as Brian Johnson hit a solo homerun in the top of the 8th inning against Wilkins. Florida then took the lead on Justin Shafer‘s RBI single, though Turgeon was then thrown out at the plate. NC State came right back to tie the game on Jake Fincher‘s solo homerun (his first of the season). Shafer just missed catching it over the right field fence.
Mike Zunino drove in the go ahead run in the top of the 9th inning with a sac fly, which FINALLY ended the day for Wilkins (5.1 IP).
Canela came through again with an RBI single in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game at 7-7 against Florida closer Austin Maddox (who entered the game in the 7th inning).
That brings us to the eventful 10th inning.
*As the Gators were celebrating their trip to the CWS, Diaz could be seen jumping all over the home plate umpire. I could feel his pain. The pitch was about a foot outside and hadn’t been called all day. Instead of walking away, the umpire got right back in his face.