Kan Li / Scout

Bethune Cookman stuns Gators 6-2, rematch for Championship on Monday

Florida and Bethune Cookman will have to play again on Monday at 4 p.m. as the Wildcats (36-24) defeated the Gators (44-17) for the first time ever in Gainesville. The winner of tomorrow’s contest will play in a NCAA Tournament Super Regional next weekend.

The Wildcats had never beaten Florida (0-31 before Sunday), but picked a good time to do it winning three games already in the tournament to stay alive and play for the championship of the Gainesville Regional on Monday.

The Wildcats outhit the Gators 12-5 as starter Brady Singer lost his second start in a row and didn’t look anything like he had earlier in the season.

BC second baseman Nate Sterijevski was the star of the game for the Wildcats recording four RBI on 2-of-4 hitting. The Gators committed an uncommon two errors that played a part in the game and allowed the Wildcats to score two early runs in the second inning.

The Gators got their two runs in the second as well when junior mike Rivera walked to lead off the inning. Junior mark Kolozsvary singled to advance Rivera to second. Nick Horvath the singled to load the bases and that was the precursor to two RBI single from Deacon Liput to tie the game 2-2.

The teams made it through the fifth inning tied at two and in the top of the sixth Danny Rodriguez led off with a double. A one out single by Kyle Corbin to right field saw Rodriguez try and score from second, but he was gunned down at the plate by sophomore Maldonado in right and a fine play by catcher Mike Rivera. Corbin would steal third without a throw.  He would score on a single off the wall in left field by Sterijevski making the score 3-2.

That score remained the same until the top of the eighth inning when BC added three insurance runs to get to the final 6-2 score. Singer struck out the first two batters of the inning, but the second, Rodriguez, reached first on a passed ball. A one-out single by Garcia and then walk to Corbin a batter later brought Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan to the mound to call on reliever Frank Rubio with the bases juiced. Sterijevski delivered again with a 2 RBI single to center field. Corbin was picked off between second and third on the play. With Sterijevski on second, Pinch hitting Michael Deeb doubled down the left field line scoring Sterijevski for the final run.

“I told Sully before the game, this is their best hitter,” Florida assistant coach Brad Weitzel said of Sterijevski after the game. “I don’t know why he’s hitting in the seven-hole. They figured out their plan about a month ago. If I had to pick a MVP, he would be the guy. He’s going off this tournament. He’s from down the road, he’s a grinder, and he’s a good baseball player. It’s impressive just to watch him and he keeps the other guys up and loose and for a sophomore he does a heck of a job out there.

It was the second game of the day for Bethune Cookman who upset South Florida in a noon contest and then this huge upset of No. 3 overall seed Florida.

Previously in other games we have had to get punched in the mouth or the nose to wake up and hopefully that will wake us up,” Weitzel said.

He was not happy with the way the guys swung the bat and made it easy for the Wildcats. There were too many pop ups on the night.

“You hit the ball up, your batting average goes down,” he stared. “You hit the ball down and your batting average goes up. They hear that every day. (Batting Practice) has been bad on the field all weekend. We had some bad looking swings today. Everybody is trying to go yard, trying to be a hero in one swing. We have to get them under control before tomorrow.

Weitzel says they have to get this team to listen and when they do they are a different team at the plate.

“They are going to be all ears in that locker room,” he said. “In about five minutes we’re going to let them have it. We have to get it turned around and it’s up to them.”

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said afterward he won’t name a starting pitcher for Monday’s contest until Monday. The Gators are in a bit of a bind on the mound having exhausted all three weekend starters and even closer Michal Byrne who could have performed the role but went 82 pitches Saturday night in a 5-1, 12-inning win over South Florida.


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