Gators Get Past Miami

Just like the 2010 Super Regionals against Miami, the inning that cost the Hurricanes the game started with an error. The Hurricanes made four errors, including a fielding error by shortstop Stephen Perez with one out in the ninth inning, and Florida (47-16) took advantage with a walk-off single by Nolan Fontana to secure a 5-4 win over Miami.

The Gators are now one win away from advancing to Super Regionals.  

  "We just had to play catch. We made way too many errors, and that's the bottom line for us," said Miami head coach Jim Morris, as his team has made 13 errors in their last three postseason games in Gainesville. "We just made errors and that cost us the game. We made (four) errors, and three of them resulted in runs."   

With one out in the ninth inning, Morris removed Sam Robinson from the game after the left-hander had retired all seven batters he faced. Travis Miller got the call, and he induced a soft ground ball to shortstop off the bat of Daniel Pigott. The ball hit in the web of Perez's glove and bounced out to allow Pigott to reach. Miller walked Vickash Ramjit, who transferred from Miami two years ago, and Miami went to closer Daniel Miranda.   

Cody Dent swung through the first pitch, but it went to the backstop and allowed runners to move up to second and third. When that happened, the chess match was on.   

Dent came to the plate hitting .169, and the Gators tried multiple safety squeeze plays in the ninth inning to earn the win. Instead, Miranda walked Dent.   

"That was a huge at-bat," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "If it's a good bunt and we locate it, it's a hard play to defend. That's what good teams do. He rose to the occasion and put together a really quality at-bat."   

Nolan Fontana came to the plate and hit a line drive into left field to win the game for the Gators. It's the seventh straight win for Florida over Miami, as well as ten of the last eleven games.   

"It's all about those 15 steps to home plate before your at-bat," Fontana said of being mentally prepared. "Sac fly wins the game, so that's what I was trying to do."   

The Gators were fueled by a ninth inning relief performance by Tommy Toledo. He allowed a leadoff double to left by Melendres, but he got two groundouts and a strikeouts to keep runs off the board. The final out was a tapper back to Toledo that caused him to jump and make the catch. He bobbled before setting his feet and throwing to first for the final out.   

Toledo had a similar performance at Vanderbilt three weekends ago, where he allowed a leadoff double that didn't score, and the Gators scored the following inning to win.   

"It was just a chopper back to me that hit off my glove," Toledo said. "I was just fortunate I got it back, set my feet and made the throw to first. That was big momentum for us."   

It didn't start out well for Florida. Miami was up 2-0 in the fourth inning after a Nathan Melendres sac fly and Stephen Perez RBI double.   

The Gators were quick to respond, as Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino had back-to-back doubles to score one. After a Josh Adams sacrifice bunt, Tyler Thompson looked like he was out when he popped a ball up in foul territory by third base. Miami third baseman Brad Fieger and catcher Shane Rowland converged, but the ball hit off Fieger's glove and dropped. Thompson then lined a double to right field to score Zunino and tie the game.   

Florida scored two more the next inning on a Nolan Fontana single and fielding error by left fielder Rony Rodriguez, and Tucker scored Fontana on a double over Dale Carey's head in right field.   

With Florida's depth on the mound, that might be the end of the game in other situations. However, Miami still had some offense left.   

Hudson Randall was pulled after six innings, allowing six hits and three runs while striking out five. He didn't have his best stuff, but he pitched well enough to keep the Gators in the game until the end. He excited with a 4-3 lead, but reliever Greg Larson gave up an RBI single to Rodriguez that tied the game in the seventh. It would stay that way until the ninth.   

The win was even more important because the Gators were without Brian Johnson and Austin Maddox, both two-way players. The outcome forces Miami to win three games to advance to the Super Regionals, while the Gators will have two chances to win just one.   

"There's nothing we can do about the injury thing," O'Sullivan said. "It's disappointing, but nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We've got plenty of depth. Now somebody has to beat us twice, but this thing is a long way from over."   

Miami will play Jacksonville at noon on Sunday in an elimination game. The winner will play Florida at 4 p.m. The Gators didn't announce a starting pitcher, but unless Brian Johnson is able to go, Alex Panteliodis (5-2, 4.11) is expected to get the start. 

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