By ALEX ABRAMS
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002
TALLAHASSEE -- South Florida wasn't supposed to be here. Now the Bulls are playing for the championship.
The Bulls (35-28), who got a bid despite finishing seventh in C-USA, won two games Saturday to emerge from the losers' bracket to face top-seeded Florida State in the championship at 1:30 p.m. today.
To reach the Super Regional next weekend, USF must defeat FSU twice. The Seminoles, the nation's No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, have a school-record 24-game winning streak.
"It seems like the bigger the game, the better (we) play," USF coach Eddie Cardieri said. "The more backed up to a wall, the more they come out fighting."
Less than seven hours after eliminating Stetson with a ninth-inning rally, the Bulls got a four-hitter from pitcher Ryan Gloger to defeat Central Florida 7-2 in front of 1,863 at Dick Howser Stadium.
USF scored two runs each in the second and third innings, and added another in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead.
That was all the help Gloger needed.
The former standout from Tampa's Jesuit High School struck out four and gave up two runs to improve to 6-4.
"What I was just really focusing on was taking one pitch at a time," said Gloger, who transferred from Stanford in August after pitching 42/3 innings in two seasons. "That's how you have to pitch."
USF catcher Devin Ivany hit a run-scoring single in third inning, and added a two-run single in the seventh that extended the lead to 7-0. The freshman went 3-for-4 with three RBI.
In the first game against Stetson, the Bulls erased deficits of 6-0 and 12-6 to win 14-13
Trailing by two in the bottom of the ninth, USF's Mike Macaluso hit a run-scoring double, and pinch-runner Travis Brown scored on a fielder's choice to tie it at 13.
After a throwing error by Stetson pitcher Ryan Heacox, who played at Shorecrest, USF's Myron Leslie hit a sacrifice fly to leftfield that scored Macaluso for the winning run.
Florida State's Nick Rogers can bring home runners. It just depends on which of a number of ways he wants to do it.
The senior drove in three runs on a single, a double and a walk to lead the Seminoles (58-12) past Central Florida 7-3 on Saturday and into today's championship round.
"I was just trying to get on base as much as possible and help the team win," said Rogers, who went 2-for-3. "I was just trying to get good pitches to hit and take good swings, and I was able to do that today."
With the score tied at 2 in the sixth, Rogers sent a Mark Michael pitch down the leftfield line, scoring Tony Richie and giving FSU its first lead at 3-2. Rogers scored on a Richie Smith single on the next at-bat.
The Knights (41-21) didn't help their cause in the seventh inning when, with the bases loaded, pitcher Von David Stertzbach walked Rogers and Smith to give the 'Noles a 7-3 lead.
"When they got the opportunity to score runs, they did, and we certainly aided them," UCF coach Jay Bergman said. "(Our bullpen) has been our strength all year long."
The Seminoles got a solid outing from pitcher Blair Varnes (9-3), who worked 61/3 innings before leaving after getting hit in the hip by a rocket shot by the Knights' Ryan Bear.