FSU's sophomore starter Drew Carlton (8-3, 3.94 ERA) was the story of this game. Pitching perhaps the greatest game of his young collegiate career, Carlton faced just one over the minimum (28 batters) as he tossed a complete game shutout on 115 pitches.
He yielded two hits, struck out five batters, walked none, and retired 19 Gators in a row. Not a single Florida baserunner even reached second base. Wow! Of all the games I have attended at McKethan Stadium, this is maybe the greatest pitching performance I have ever witnessed from an opposing hurler.
Opposing Carlton for the Gators was Alex Faedo (13-2, 3.25 ERA). Losing only one game the whole season, Faedo was not himself today. He lasted a season-low four innings, allowed two earned runs on three hits, struck out seven, walked three, and hit a batter as he received his second loss of the season. He exited the game with 84 pitches thrown.
When Faedo left in the fifth inning, it was 1-0 FSU with a runner on second base and no outs. The first reliever out of the pen was junior Dane Dunning, and he nearly gave up a two-run bomb to shortstop Taylor Walls on his first pitch. Instead, it was an RBI double that pushed the Seminole lead to 2-0.
After Dunning's rude awakening, FSU tacked on another run when second baseman Deacon Liput mishandled a throw to first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Instead of a runner on third and one out, it was 3-0 FSU with no outs and a runner on first.
Dunning would work 2.1 innings while striking out two, walking one, and allowing one earned run. Once the first rounder departed, lefty Kirby Snead came in and walked the only batter he faced before Frank Rubio induced an inning-ending groundout on just two pitches.
For the remainder of the game, lefty Nick Horvath gave the bullpen some rest as he delivered 2.1 strong innings of one-hit ball with two punch outs.
Offensively, both Buddy Reed and Danny Reyes went 1-3 with a single. That's it.
This is the flattest I have seen this Florida Gator team all season. To sum up how much of a mess this game was, take note of the following:
- Jonathan India's bat flew out of his hands and down the third base foul line after he whiffed on a pitch early in the game.
- Dalton Guthrie fouled off a ball that bounced up and hit him in the face. He remained in the game.
- Alex Faedo's command vanished in the fourth inning as he loaded the bases with a leadoff double, a walk, and a hit by pitch before walking in the game's first run on four straight pitches.
- The Gators defense -which is top three in the country at a .982 clip- failed to execute on a sacrifice bunt.
- In the fifth inning, where I literally saw this Gator team implode before my very eyes, it was raining decently enough to impact the game but not delay it. As soon as the top half concluded, the rain let up.
- For the record, this is the first time EVER that Florida has been shutout at home in an NCAA Tournament game.
- In my honest opinion, it feels like the Gators just had a perfect game thrown against them.
Tomorrow, Logan Shore (11-0 2.44 ERA) takes the mound for the final time at McKethan Stadium. Undefeated on the season and 1-0 all-time against FSU, the 47th overall pick in this year's MLB Draft is hands down making one of the biggest starts of his college career. If Florida's ace gets the job done, then it will be up to A.J. Puk in a winner-take-all Game 3.
For the 'Noles, they are one victory away from avenging their blowout losses to Florida in last year's super regional. With a chance at making their first College World Series appearance since 2012, FSU will go with either freshman lefty Tyler Holton (3-3, 2.92 ERA) or redshirt senior righty Mike Compton (5-3, 4.92 ERA) in the potential clincher.
Game time will yet again be at 6 p.m. It can be seen on ESPN2 and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.
*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com & NCAA.com