The "Cinderella" Kent State Golden Flashes baseball team lives on in the College World Series after eliminating the #1 seed Florida Gators 5-4. Kent found itself in the "loser's bracket" after losing to Arkansas in their first game. Florida, who made it to the finals last year, head home with a 47-20 record.
Florida gave up four unearned runs and a fifth on a wild pitch after being among the leaders in the country in fielding coming into the CWS. They then chipped away at the five run lead with a run in the sixth and two runs in the seventh to go along with an earlier run to come within a run of Kent (47-19), but the Flashes bullpen shut down the Gators in the eighth and ninth.
"It wasn't the prettiest thing in the end," Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. "It was gut-wrenching no matter who you were rooting for. Even if you weren't rooting for anybody, that was tough to watch. But we found a way. That's what this team has done all year long, and we're still here."
Ryan Bores picks up the win, while Josh Pierce nails the save. Hudson Randall, the best postseason pitcher in program history, left after the first inning because of heat-related symptoms, taking the loss for the Gators.
"It's an unfortunate way to end the season, but I think Kent State deserves a lot of credit for the way they played today," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They hung in there, got a big strikeout at the end, and our guys hung in there right to the last out. So we have nothing to be ashamed of."
As with most games Kent has played, this one came down to the last pitch. Relief pitcher Michael Clark walked the leadoff hitter Preston Tucker on four straight pitches. He was 2-0 against Mike Zunino when Stricklin brought in Josh Pierce, who walked Zunino. Pinch-hitter Cody Dent moved over the runners with a sacrifice. Pierce then hit Daniel Pigott in the shoulder to load the bases.
Pierce fell behind 3-0 to Casey 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. Justin Shafer was next up and nailed Pierce's first pitch to deep right, but Kent's TJ Sutton was able to chase down the fly to end the game.
"Trust me, our bullpen is really good," Stricklin said. "They weren't as good as we'd like them to be tonight. But bottom line ... the entire pitching staff found a way to get it done, and we move on."
The Flashes move on to the face 2010 and 2011 CWS champion South Carolina tonight at 8:00 on ESPN. The Gamecocks are making their 11th appearance in the CWS. The winner faces Arkansas Thursday night.