Alex Panteliodis’ phone received a text message Thursday on the eve of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional opening game between Florida and Miami. The message was from Florida head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
Instead of talking about pitching or how to attack the Miami offense, O’Sullivan wanted his starting pitcher to know what was said at Thursday’s press conference by Hurricanes catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Grandal, a first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds, talked about how the streaking Miami offense coming into Gainesville wasn’t “a good thing for the Florida pitchers.”
Panteliodis got the message. Friday night at McKethan Stadium, Panteliodis sent one of his own—he hurled Florida’s first complete game in over two years, allowing only three hits and recording a career-high 12 strikeouts in leading the Gators to a 7-2 victory in the first game of their best-of-three series with Miami.
“It gave me more fuel for the tank,” Panteliodis said of Grandal’s quote. “I was going to give it everything I got and go as long as I could.”
Turns out, he couldn’t have gone any longer. He threw the complete game in 116 pitches, 85 for strikes, and was still throwing heat—touching 95 miles an hour, according to ESPN—in the ninth inning.
Before the game even started, catcher Mike Zunino could tell it was going to be a good night for the staff ace.
“When I was warming him up in the bullpen, he had a little bit more life to it,” Zunino said of Panteliodis’ fastball. “The first couple innings, I thought he had a little more life than he had all season. As the game went on, he was able to harness it and know where the ball was going more.”
With Florida up 3-0 in the fourth inning, Panteliodis gave up a single to Scott Lawson and Grandal followed with a two-run home run to right field. After that, the left-hander didn’t allow a hit to the final 18 batters he faced. The only hitter that reached happened when Michael Broad worked a walk to lead off the fifth inning, but Panteliodis erased him by enducing a double play from the next hitter, Stephen Perez. He went on to retire the last 14 batters he faced.
“It all started with Alex,” O’Sullivan said. “Any time you can get a complete game on Friday of a three-game series, you’ve got to feel good about it. (The bullpen is) rested.”
The ability to let Panteliodis go for the complete game comes from the way O’Sullivan used the starting pitcher earlier in the year. With a deep bullpen, he didn’t have them throwing deep pitch counts, allowing them to throw those elongated pitch counts late in the season.
“Coming into tonight’s game, we may have had four pitchers throw 100 pitches this year,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re rested. We don’t have guys with 100+ innings at this point of the year.”
While Panteliodis put it in cruise control, the Florida offense was able to feast.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, Brian Johnson lined a 3-2 pitch to Perez at shortstop. He backhanded the ball and jogged towards the dugout, when third base umpire Phil Benson ruled that the ball hit the ground before Perez caught it, allowing one run to score and the bases to remain loaded.
Miami coach Jim Morris sprinted out of the dugout to argue the call. The umpires met at the center of the diamond to review it but decided that the call would stand.
“I couldn’t tell from my angle,” Morris said. “I was just watching Stephen Perez. He was very definitive that he caught the ball. The only guy who really could have seen it was the third base umpire. He was the only person that really had the angle with it being a backhand.
“Big play, big call, but the next guy got a hit with two outs.”
Zunino delivered that hit by lining a single to left field, scoring two runs and putting the Gators ahead 3-0 after three innings.
After Grandal’s two-run shot brought Miami within a run, the Gators stole the momentum for the rest of the night.
After Tyler Thompson walked and Jonathan Pigott singled, Nolan Fontana had the bunt sign taken off and swung away. He hit a ground ball to second base that looked like a routine double play, but Miami second baseman Frankie Ratcliff couldn’t field it cleanly and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Matt den Dekker grounded out to second, advancing the runners and scoring Thompson. After Preston Tucker popped out, Austin Maddox lined a single up the middle, scoring Pigott and Fontana to push the Florida lead to 6-2 after four innings.
“That hit from Austin was huge with two outs,” O’Sullivan said.
The RBI for Maddox came with two outs, and now 36 of his 70 RBI have come with two outs on the season.
“He can hit,” O’Sullivan said. “He never gives away hits or (batting practice). He is always concentrating on what he’s doing, whether a game or practicing. He is always working on his swing.”
Tyler Thompson tacked on a home run over the right-center bullpen in the fifth inning. It was his fourth home run in two games after hitting just two home runs, both solo shots, in the first 59 games of the season.
The Gators decided to start Jonathan Pigott in right field, getting his first start since the SEC Tournament. The Florida coaches decided to reward him with a good week of practice, but Panteliodis’ tendencies also played a factor. Pigott went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and had his third hit stolen away when Miami left fielder Zeke DeVoss made a diving catch to snare the line drive before it hit the ground.
“AP has a tendency to give up some fly ball outs,” O’Sullivan said. “We felt like he (Pigott) would play really good defense. It really boiled down to him having a really good week of practice. We wanted to play a senior and some experience out there.”
The Gators are now one win away from earning their first berth in the College World Series since 2005. Florida will start freshman right-hander Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97 ERA) against Miami’s junior left-hander Chris Hernandez (10-3, 2.77 ERA). First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
(3) FLORIDA 7, MIAMI (FLA.) 2
At McKethan Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Miami, Fla. (43-19) 000 200 000 — 2 3 2
Florida (46-15) 003 310 00x — 7 9 0
2B—Nolan Fontana (F, 15). HR—Yasmani Grandal (M, 15), Tyler Thompson (F, 6).
Hitting leaders: Miami, Fla., Yasmani Grandal 1-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI. Florida, Brian Johnson 2-for-4, 1 RBI; Jonathan Pigott 2-for-4, 2 runs; Austin Maddox 1-for-5, 2 RBI, 1 run; Mike Zunino 1-of-4, 2 RBI; Preston Tucker, 0-for-2, 3 walks.
Pitching: Miami, Fla., David Gutierrez (L, 5-3) 4 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs (1 earned), 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 86 pitches/52 strikes; Jason Santana 4 innings, 2 hits, 1 run (earned), 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 1 wild pitch, 74 pitches/45 strikes. Florida, Alex Panteliodis (W, 11-2) 9 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk, 12 strikeouts, 116 pitches/85 strikes.
NCAA DIVISION I BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, June 11
(3) Florida 7, Miami, Fla. 2; (3) Florida (46-15) leads best-of-3 Gainesville Super Regional, 1-0.
Florida State 9, Vanderbilt 8; Florida State (46-17) leads best-of-3 Tallahassee Super Regional series, 1-0.
Texas Christian 3, (2) Texas 1; Texas Christian (50-11) leads best-of-3 Austin Super Regional, 1-0.
Cal State Fullerton 4, (6) UCLA 3; Cal State Fullerton (46-16) leads best-of-3 Los Angeles Super Regional, 1-0.
Saturday, June 12
Miami, Fla. (43-19) vs. (3) Florida (46-15) at Gainesville, Fla., 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
South Carolina (46-15) vs. (4) Coastal Carolina (55-8) at BB&T Coastal Field, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Noon (ESPNU)
Vanderbilt (45-19) vs. Florida State (46-17) at Tallahassee, Fla., 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas Christian (50-11) vs. (2) Texas (49-12) at Austin, Texas, 1 p.m. (ESPNHD)
Oklahoma (47-15) vs. (5) Virginia (50-12) at Charlottesville, Va., 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Alabama (41-23) vs. Clemson (41-22) at Clemson, S.C., 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Cal State Fullerton (46-16) vs. (6) UCLA (46-14) at Los Angeles, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Arkansas (43-19) vs. (1) Arizona State (50-8) at Tempe, Ariz., 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday, June 13
Miami, Fla. vs. (3) Florida at Gainesville, Fla., 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD) (if necessary)
Vanderbilt vs. Florida State at Tallahassee, Fla., 1 p.m. (ESPN) (if necessary)
South Carolina vs. (4) Coastal Carolina at BB&T Coastal Field, Myrtle Beach, S.C., 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Oklahoma vs. (5) Virginia at Charlottesville, Va., 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas Christian vs. (2) Texas at Austin, Texas, 4 p.m. (ESPNHD) (if necessary)
Alabama vs. Clemson at Clemson, S.C., 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Arkansas vs. (1) Arizona State at Tempe, Ariz., 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cal State Fullerton vs. (6) UCLA at Los Angeles, 10 p.m. (ESPN2) (if necessary)
Monday, June 14
South Carolina vs. (4) Coastal Carolina at BB&T Coastal Field, Myrtle Beach, S.C., 1 or 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Oklahoma vs. (5) Virginia at Charlottesville, Va., 1 or 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Alabama vs. Clemson at Clemson, S.C.,1 or 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Arkansas vs. (1) Arizona State at Tempe, Ariz., 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
TALLAHASSEE SUPER REGIONAL
Florida State 9, Vanderbilt 8: Mike McGee’s walkoff home run in the ninth inning off reliever Chase Reid lifted Florida State (46-17) to its victory over Vanderbilt in the first game of their best-of-three series.
The Commodores (45-19) lost despite 16 hits and four home runs that brought them back from a 6-0 deficit after two innings. Curt Casali went 4-for-5 for Vanderbilt, including a double and home run. Also hitting homers for Vanderbilt were Jason Esposito, Joe Loftus and Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame member Carl Yastrzemski and son of former Florida State player Mike Yastrzemski.
Florida State built a 6-0 lead after two innings off Vandy starter Taylor Hill, but starting pitcher Sean Gilmartin didn’t last, going 4.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs. The Commodores then got four runs off reliever Geoff Parker in 2.1 innings. But Daniel Bennett (5-1) came in and earned the win with two innings of one-hit relief with three strikeouts.
McGee’s 15th homer of the season was a towering shot over the fence in right-center that beat Reid (4-2).
At Dick Howser Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
Vanderbilt (45-19) 000 132 110 — 8 16 0
Florida State (46-17) 240 000 111 — 9 12 0
2B—Jason Esposito (V, 25), Curt Casali (V, 11), Andrew Giobbi (V, 16), Mike Yastrzemski (V, 7), Connor Harrell (V, 15), Tyler Holt (FSU, 25). HR—Jason Esposito (V, 11), Curt Casali (V, 8), Joe Loftus (V, 8), Mike Yastrzemski (V, 3), Sherman Johnson (FSU, 9), Mike McGee (FSU, 15), Jayce Boyd (FSU, 7).
Hitting leaders: Vanderbilt, Curt Casali 4-for-5, 2 RBI; Jason Esposito 2-for-5, 3 RBI. Florida State, Jayce Boyd 3-for-4, 2 runs, 1 RBI; Tyler Holt 2-for-5, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Sherman Johnson 2-for-5, 2 runs, 2 RBI.
Pitching: Vanderbilt, Taylor Hill 5 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 2 strikeouts; Richie Goodenow 1.2 innings, 3 hits, 1 run (earned), 0 walks, 1 strikeout; Chase Reid (L, 4-2) 2 innings, 2 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 0 walks, 1 strikeout. Florida State, Sean Gilmartin, 4.2 innings, 10 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 1 walk, 4 strikeouts; Geoff Parker, 2.1 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 0 walks, 3 strikeouts; Daniel Bennett (W, 5-1) 2 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts.
AUSTIN SUPER REGIONAL
Texas Christian 3, (2) Texas 1: Matt Purke gave up three hits and one walk while striking out 11 in 7.2 innings to lead Texas Christian (50-11) to its victory over No. 2 seed Texas in Austin.
The Horned Frogs scored first when Aaron Schultz’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Matt Curry from third in the second inning. TCU got two more runs in the sixth thanks to a wild pitch from losing pitcher Cole Green (11-2) and another sacrifice fly to right by Joe Weik.
Texas (49-12) scored its only run when Kevin Keyes hit a 2-2 breaking ball over the left field fence off Purke, who improved to 14-0.
At UFCU Disch-Falk Stadium, Austin, Texas
Texas Christian (50-11) 010 002 000 — 3 7 1
Texas (49-12) 000 000 100 — 1 3 0
HR—Kevin Keyes (T, 15).
Hitting leaders: Texas Christian, Jantzen Witte 2-for-3, Joe Weik 1-of-3, 1 RBI. Texas, Kevin Keyes 2-for-4, 1 HR.
Pitching: Texas Christian, Matt Purke (W, 14-0) 7.2 innings, 3 hits, 1 run (earned), 1 walk, 1 hit by pitch, 11 strikeouts; Tyler Lockwood (S, 6) 1.1 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout. Texas, Cole Green (L, 11-2) 5.2 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 3 walks (1 intentional), 1 hit by pitch, 1 wild pitch, 4 strikeouts; Stayton Thomas 3.1 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout.
LOS ANGELES SUPER REGIONAL
Cal State Fullerton 4, (6) UCLA 3: Noe Ramirez struck out 13 in 7-plus innings and Cal State Fullerton held off a rally in the ninth to beat the Bruins in the first game of their Super Regional series in Los Angeles.
Nick Ramirez came on to pitch with Fullerton clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. He promptly gave up a walk to Beau Amaral and a single to Blair Dunlap and committed a wild pitch to put runners on first and third with nobody out.
A pick-off of Dunlap and a strikeout changed the tone from desperation to manageable, and he then whiffed pinch-hitter Chris Giovinazzo to end it.
Nick Ramirez also drove in two runs, and Christian Colon added a homer for Fullerton.
At Jackie Robinson Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.
Cal State Fullerton (46-16) 000 310 000 — 4 5 3
UCLA (46-14) 100 000 020 — 3 8 2
2B—Tyler Rahmatulla 2 (UCLA, 19), Beau Amaral (UCLA, 9), Tyler Pill (CSF, 12). HR—Christian Colon (CSF, 17).
Leading hitters: Cal State Fullerton, Christian Colon 2-for-5, 1 run, 1 RBI, 1 HR; Tyler Pill 2-for-4, 1 run; Nick Ramirez 1-for-4, 2 RBI. UCLA, Tyler Rahmatulla 2-for-5, 2 2B, 1 run, 1 RBI; Blair Dunlap 2-for-5.
Pitching: Cal State Fullerton, Noe Ramirez (W, 12-1) 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, 13 strikeouts; Raymond Hernandez 1 inning, 1 hit, 1 hit batter, 1 run (unearned), 2 strikeouts; Nick Ramirez (S, 11) 1 inning, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout. UCLA, Gerrit Cole (L, 10-3) 6.2 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 2 hit batters 7 strikeouts; Matt Grace 1.1 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts; Erik Goeddel 1 inning, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout.