Gators Advance to Super Regionals

Florida wasted no time putting the Gainesville Regional title out of reach. The Gators scored seven runs on five hits and four walks in the first two innings of the game. With an extended lead, starting pitcher Brian Johnson put it in cruise control and the Florida offense continued to tack on, as the Gators advanced to next weekend's Super Regionals with a 15-3 win over Georgia Tech on Sunday.

"We kept tacking on runs, which is really important," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said after the game. "Georgia Tech has the type of offense where if you give up a walk and a single, next thing you know, there's a three-run homer. We needed to keep distancing ourselves, and we did a nice job there."

Daniel Pigott started the scoring with a two-out, two-run double in the first inning that squeaked between the first base line and Yellow Jackets first baseman Daniel Palka. Two batters later, Justin Shafer bounced a single up the middle that scored two more runs to give the Gators a 4-0 lead after one inning.

That's all the runs Florida would needed, but they continued the scoring.

Back-to-back singles by Nolan Fontana and Preston Tucker in the second inning started another rally that ended when Mike Zunino blasted a ball into the left field bleachers for his 18th home run of the season.

"It was up there," Zunino said while comparing it to other home runs he hit this season. "It was one of the better balls I've hit this year.

With a 7-0 lead after two innings, Brian Johnson was able to relax, throw the ball over the plate and trust his defense. The junior was pulled after five innings where he allowed three hits, one run and struck out four hitters on 65 pitches because O'Sullivan wanted to get some of his other pitchers some work over the weekend.

"Brian gave us a great start," O'Sullivan said. "We got out to an early 7-0 lead, and Brian continued to throw strikes."

Casey Turgeon was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Gainesville Regional after hitting .600 (6-10) on the weekend with one home run, two doubles, four runs scored and five RBI. He also made multiple outstanding plays in the field.

"I didn't know I would get MVP because Crawford threw a no-hitter," Turgeon said, noting that he would've voted for Crawford. "When my name was called, it was awesome. I was really happy."

The defense wasn't just by Turgeon. Fontana and Tobias made multiple impressive plays on the left side of the infield all weekend.

"Everybody talks about pitching, everybody talks about our offense and power, but our defense is really good," O'Sullivan said. "Josh Tobias has done a really good job. His first step on a couple balls to his left is really good. He saved some balls that earlier in the year might've got by him.

He has solidified the infield. Nolan is the best in the country, and Casey Turgeon, you've seen enough of the plays he has made."

Bobby Poyner, Karsten Whitson, John Magliozzi, Greg Larson and Austin Maddox combined to throw the last four innings, giving up three hits, two runs and striking out four in relief.

On the weekend, the Florida pitching staff threw 27 innings, allowing 18 hits, six runs, two walks and 20 strikeouts.

The Gators will host a Super Regional next weekend, starting on Friday or Saturday. North Carolina State and Vanderbilt will play one game on Monday night, and the winner of it will be in Gainesville next weekend to play for a berth in the College World Series.

Dates and times for next weekend will be announced at 11 p.m. on Monday.

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