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|GAME AT A GLANCE|
|Turning Point: The two teams mostly talked about the third inning, but in the fourth, Taylor Jungmann was pitching with a 3-2 lead and had retired the first two batters, bringing up the bottom of Florida’s order. Then he walked Tyler Thompson and gave up back-to-back doubles to Daniel Pigott and Cody Dent (son of ex-big leaguer Bucky Dent), yielding the lead. It was Dent’s first extra-base hit of the season. “I’ve just been trying to put good at-bats together, not be an easy out,” said Dent, who struck out in his last two at-bats.
The Hero: Hudson Randall didn’t show dominant stuff but pounded the strike zone and put up a zero in five of the seven innings in which he pitched, including four 1-2-3 frames. “I knew we could score at any time,” he said. “I was just trying to make quick innings out there, go 1-2-3, get us back into the dugout to score more runs.” Mission accomplished.
You Might Have Missed: Florida’s deep bullpen was on display a bit, as 6-foot-8 righthander Greg Larson struck out Tant Shepherd with a runner at second and two outs to end the seventh inning. Then junior lefthander Nick Maronde retired all six batters he faced to earn the save, throwing 28 fastballs out of his 29 pitches and sitting at 92-95 mph. He struck out three.
OMAHA—Texas scored three runs in the third inning and sent ace Taylor Jungmann to the mound in the bottom half of its College World Series opener against Florida. The 13-game winner and Brewers’ first-round pick had retired six of the first seven Gators he faced, and Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan admitted afterward he “wasn’t feeling too good at that point.”
He need not have worried. Jungmann wasn’t himself all night and didn’t last five innings in taking his third straight loss after winning his first 13 decisions. Florida scored in four of its last five times at bat, despite having a home run incorrectly ruled at double after an odd bounce at new TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
And O’Sullivan had Hudson Randall, the sophomore righthander. He settled down to pitch into the seventh inning, helping lead Florida to an 8-4 victory against the Longhorns. The Gators (51-17) will face Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt on Monday evening, while Texas (49-18) drops into an elimination game Monday afternoon against North Carolina.
The Longhorns didn’t figure to be in that position after getting three runs in the third on two Florida errors, singles by Tant Shepherd and Brandon Loy and two sacrifice flies. The second sac fly, however, began a streak of 13 straight that Randall retired as he settled into a groove.
“Sully always tells me if you give up one, don’t give up another,” Randall said, referencing his head coach. “Always stop the bleeding where it’s at. That was my main focus out there. I kind of slipped up when I got 0-2 on that batter (Shepherd) trying to bunt . . . and he ended up getting a hit. But after that, they weren’t getting really good swings on me throughout the game. I was just trusting my stuff, throwing strikes, trying to get out of it with the least amount of damage as possible.”
Jungmann wasn’t able to accomplish that goal and immediately gave back the momentum Texas had gained with its three-run third. He walked the first two batters of the bottom half, Florida’s eighth and ninth hitters, Daniel Pigott and Cody Dent. Two runs scored in the inning on Bryson Smith’s RBI single and a passed ball, when Jungmann missed his target badly.
Jungmann then gave up two more runs in the fourth, yielding a two-out walk and back-to-back doubles to Pigott and Dent, who entered the game batting and slugging .191. It was Dent’s first extra-base hit of the season in his 69th official at-bat.
“I got out of rhythm,” Jungmann said after his outing, which lasted 4 1/3 innings and included four walks, five runs allowed (four earned), a hit batsman and two wild pitches. “One I got out of rhythm I made some bad pitches. I felt like I set them up to have some opportunities to score runs. I walked more guys than I usually do and they took advantage of that.”
Texas went to its bullpen early and often to try to keep the game close, but Florida never let up the pressure. Lefty Hoby Milner relieved Jungmann in the fifth with Smith at first and one out, coming on to face lefthanded-hitting Preston Tucker. The junior made up for making one of Florida’s two third-inning errors by pounding an RBI double to right field for a 5-3 lead.
And after Texas chased Randall with a run in the seventh on a two-out double by Jordan Etier, the Gators answered again. Smith—who wasn’t retired in five plate appearances—drew a one-out walk and moved to second on an unusual play. Reliever Andrew McKirahan was delivering a 2-0 pitch to Tucker when two umpires signaled for a balk. Tucker swung away and hit a grounder to Shepherd at first, who looked to throw to Loy for a force out at second base. But Loy gave up on the play after the balk, and Tucker reached on a fielder’s choice, as the Gators were able to choose either the balk or the result of the play.
Nathan Thornhill relieved McKirahan, and one out later gave up a long hit to Brian Johnson. The Gators’ sophomore DH, playing for the first time in three weeks after suffering a concussion in the SEC tournament, hit one off the top of the wall in right-center field, and replays showed it should have been ruled a home run. However, the umpires ruled the play a double, which nonetheless plated two runs and gave the Gators a 7-4 lead.
NCAA umpire coordinator Gene McArtor admitted in a postgame statement that “the batted ball in the bottom of the seventh inning was mistakenly ruled in play rather than a home run that did clear the yellow line of the outfield fence . . . The umpires did and are allowed to conference to determine if any others of the crew had different information, which they did not. The umpires do not have the ability for video review.”
Texas coach Augie Garrido didn’t need to see a video review to know why his team is facing elimination.
“The truth of the matter is we played a below-average game against a very good team, and they had the ability to capitalize on it and penalize us severely for the mistakes or the gifts or the poor decisions . . . ” he said. “We gave them extra baserunners. We gave them free bases. We gave them extra outs within the framework of the inning, and they’re too good to do that.”