Kent State eliminates top-seeded Florida 5-4 at College World Series

Monday, June 18, 2012 | 8:30 p.m. CDT; updated 8:56 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 18, 2012
Kent State's Jimmy Rider, right, scores at home plate on a wild pitch against Florida pitcher Jonathon Crawford, left, in the fourth inning of an NCAA College World Series elimination baseball game Monday in Omaha, Neb.

OMAHA, Neb. — Kent State scored four unearned runs and another on a wild pitch, then held off Florida's comeback bid in the ninth to eliminate the top-seeded Gators from the College World Series with a 5-4 victory Monday.

The Gators loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against shaky relievers Michael Clark and Josh Pierce.

Pierce fought back from a 3-0 count to strike out Casey Turgeon when Turgeon couldn't check his swing and got called out on an appeal to the third-base umpire. Justin Shafer flew out to right to end the game, with Pierce pumping his right fist once the ball landed in right fielder T.J. Sutton's glove.

The Gators (47-20), who reached the CWS finals last year, committed five errors in two games after coming to Omaha seventh in the nation in fielding.

Florida's Hudson Randall (9-3) left after the first inning because of heat-related symptoms. Ryan Bores (10-3) got the win for Kent State (47-19), making its first CWS appearance. Pierce earned his third save.

Kent State had 12 hits against four pitchers, but it was Florida's continuing problems in the field that allowed the Flashes to build a 5-1 lead.

George Roberts drove in runs each of the first two innings after shortstop Nolan Fontana and third baseman Josh Tobias committed errors.

Florida scored in the sixth and added two more runs in the seventh to make it 5-4.

Three outs away from a pulling the upset, Clark walked Preston Tucker on four straight pitches to start the ninth. He was 2-0 against Mike Zunino when Kent State coach Scott Stricklin called on Pierce, who also struggled with his control and put Zunino on.

After pinch hitter Cody Dent moved over the runners with a sacrifice, Pierce hit Daniel Pigott in the shoulder to load the bases.

Pierce fell behind 3-0 to Turgeon before throwing a strike. It looked like Turgeon would walk — TV replays indicated strike two was outside — but he couldn't hold back on his check swing on the next pitch and third base umpire Jeff Henrichs called him out.

Shafer put a good swing on Pierce's next pitch, but Sutton was able to chase down the fly to end the game.

It was 95 degrees at the start of the game, making it the warmest first pitch at the CWS since June 11, 2001. Before Monday, Kent State hadn't played a game in weather warmer than 82 degrees all season.

It was Florida's Hudson who was bothered by the heat and humidity. At one point in the first inning, Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan made a mound visit and athletic trainers brought water to Hudson.

Hudson finished the inning with one unearned run scored against him. O'Sullivan wouldn't let him come out for the second because it was apparent he was ill.

Bores, a 27th-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers, turned in a third straight strong performance in the NCAA tournament. He worked six innings and allowed two runs on six hits.

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