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Rally sends Gators to CWS finals

June 25, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Preston Tucker drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded single in the eighth inning and Florida survived some shaky bullpen work to advance to the College World Series finals with a 6-4 victory over Vanderbilt Friday.

The second-seeded Gators (53-17) will play South Carolina or Virginia in the best-of-three championship round that starts Monday.

Alex Panteliodis limited Vanderbilt (54-12) to three hits in six innings before five relievers squandered all of his 4-1 lead.

Daniel Pigott singled and Cody Dent and Nolan Fontana reached on back-to-back bunts in the eighth before Tucker drove a ball deep into left field. The Gators added another run when Mark Lamm's breaking ball in the dirt bounced away from Curt Casali, allowing Dent to come home.

Austin Maddox (3-0) earned the win, which is Florida's fifth in six meetings this season against its Southeastern Conference rival.

Oakland Athletics first-round draft pick Sonny Gray (12-4) took the loss for Vanderbilt, playing in the College World Series for the first time.

Gray, who struggled despite winning his first CWS outing against North Carolina, was up and down Friday. He struck out eight but walked five, and had trouble picking up Fontana's bunt that loaded the bases in the deciding eighth inning.

Corey Williams came in to face Tucker, who was hitting .364 in the tournament. He drilled a 1-0 pitch over left fielder Tony Kemp for his NCAA tournament-leading 19th RBI.

Panteliodis, the New York Mets' ninth-round draft pick, retired the last eight batters he faced before turning the game over to the normally reliable Florida bullpen.

Tommy Toledo faced five batters, getting pulled after Connor Harrell's two-out single made it 4-2. Nick Maronde walked the bases full, then walked Kemp to make it a one-run game.

Greg Larson came on and got Anthony Gomez to fly out to right to end the inning.

Vanderbilt was back at it in the eighth. Steven Rodriguez, who held Vandy hitless in 4 1-3 innings of relief earlier in the week, left after giving up back-to-back singles.

Maddox, the closer, came on to face Jason Esposito, who broke an 0-for-15 slump with an infield single to load the bases. Maddox then hit Conrad Gregor to force in the tying run.

Vanderbilt's Aaron Westlake, who came in 1 for 10 in the College World Series, hit his team-leading 18th homer of the season in the first.



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