BASEBALL: Gators down Seminoles on way to Omaha

Omaha baby!! From the moment that senior reliever Connor Falkenbach released the 2-0 pitch to Florida State right fielder Jack Rye you got a sense that this would be the play that sealed Florida's fate. Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Matt LaPorta gathered the ground ball and stepped on the bag, ripping the heart out of the hated Seminoles, while simultaneously punching the Gators ticket to the College World Series.

"We're going to Omaha," winning pitcher Alan Horne proclaimed, when asked in the post game press conference by a reporter if he was glad to be pulled in the ninth.

"We started smelling it around January," he added. "You bring out all of the stops for post season. That's what championship clubs are made of. Guys that can gut it out and every one of us did that tonight."

The Gators did just that. It was indeed another shining example of teamwork. Twelve hits, eight runs, no errors, and some pretty solid pitching.

The Southeastern Conference Champions and State of Florida Champions are deservedly heading for the college baseball mecca in America's heartland.

Florida jumped out to a four run lead in the top of the first and never quit putting pressure on the Florida State pitching staff, particularly starter Mark Sauls (6-2).

Second baseman Adam Davis singled with one out. LaPorta followed with a single to center. Catcher Brian Jeroloman then singled to right scoring Davis. He advanced to second on a throwing error by ‘Noles second baseman Tony Thomas. Brandon McArthur grounded out to short, scoring LaPorta. Right fielder Brian LeClerc the drilled Sauls next pitch over the right field fence and the Gators led 4-0. They also chased Sauls in the process.

The Gators and their faithful fans smelled blood. The Mac began rockin' and rollin'.

Horne (9-2) gave up a walk to leadoff batter Shane Robinson. He stole second on a 2-0 pitch and later scored on Gibbs Chapman double to left center cutting the Florida lead to 4-1.

The Seminoles scored a single run again in the third. They were able to get the leadoff batter on base in the first four innings.

Florida was able to score a run in the top of the fourth courtesy of two costly Seminoles errors. Designated hitter Stephen Barton reached on a throwing error by Thomas. Two batters later, Corsaletti reached on an error by shortstop Ryne Jernigan, which scored Barton.

Florida put the game out of reach in the sixth. Justin Tordi and Barton reached on singles. Right fielder Gavin Dickey then smashed a double to right center scoring Tordi. Two batters later, Adam Davis doubled down over the bag at third scoring both Barton and Dickey.

Trailing 8-3 in the ninth, The Seminoles tried to rally, piecing together three hits and two runs. Horne was lifted after one out in favor of Mike Pete. The Marianna native allowed the Seminoles eight hits and five earned runs, while throwing a season high 148 pitches.

"I knew that I had thrown a lot," Horne said. "That's tough in this heat and humidity. Really, my legs were pretty gone after the fifth or sixth inning, but I didn't tell them (the coaches) that. I wasn't about to come out of a game like that.

"You don't ever want to come out of game like that," he continued. "Never. The humidity helps to keep you loose, but it can be very taxing at the same time. I've got all season to rest after this is over with, you know."

Florida went to the man Coach Pat McMahon has earmarked as the guy we want to close things out in the ninth inning, Falkenbach. He gave up a hit before retiring Rye to end the game.

"Pandemonium," Gavin Dickey said describing the post game celebration. "That's what we wanted to be a part of. It was amazing. To see the look in everybody's eyes and feel the joy on the field and know that everybody worked so hard to achieve this goal."

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