By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002
GAINESVILLE -- The Miami Hurricanes are the defending national champions in baseball until somebody takes that title away.
Judging from the way the Hurricanes are playing, taking it isn't going to be easy.
The team with the worst record in the four-team region, Miami (32-27) advanced to the championship game with a 7-2 win against top-seeded host Florida in front of 4,125 at Perry Field.
The Gators were relegated to the losers' bracket and forced to play Bethune Cookman College, a 7-4 winner against No. 2 seeded Florida International, for the second time in two days Saturday night.
Florida rebounded with 16 hits and 21 runs, aided by a season-high eight BCC errors to defeat the Wildcats 21-10.
The Gators (45-18) will play Miami at 1 p.m. today for the right to advance to the NCAA Super Regional next weekend. Florida has to defeat Miami twice to advance. The Hurricanes have won 11 consecutive postseason games dating to last season.
"There's no question we're playing different and there's a different feeling in the dugout right now," Miami coach Jim Morris said. "It's a great feeling and that's the feeling we need right now because nothing matters -- records don't matter, nothing matters until you get to the tournament and we're 2-0 right now."
Florida's biggest problem today may be finding enough pitchers. . The Gators already have used their top three -- Keith Ramsey (9-3), Alex Hart (13-3) and Jimmy Ramshaw (6-3) -- the latter two Saturday. In 51/3 innings, Ramshaw allowed 11 hits and eight runs (seven earned) against B-CC.
"We'll address those pitching issues pitch by pitch, inning by inning, but I will say this, we'll be stretched," Florida coach Pat McMahon said.
In Florida's game against Miami, errors led to the game's first two runs and ultimately were the Gators' undoing.
Miami took a 1-0 lead in the third when Hart threw a wild pitch that allowed Javy Rodriguez to score. Then in the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs, Miami pitcher Kiki Bengochea walked Pat Osborn on four pitches, allowing Brian Rose to score. Florida got just the one run in the inning, the first of two bases-loaded opportunities the Gators couldn't fully capitalize on.
By the end of the third, both teams had left nine on base. But that changed for the Hurricanes in the sixth, when Miami scored five runs to take a 6-1 lead.
The inning fell apart for Florida on one big play. With one out, Paco Figueroa hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball, but Florida leftfielder Aaron Sobieraj dropped it and runners advanced to first and second.
Hart gave up two singles and two runs scored before he was relieved by David Bartlet, who gave up a three-run home run to Danny Matienzo two batters later.
"Definitely that's a momentum shifter," said Hart, who pitched 51/3 innings, allowing nine hits, five runs (two earned), struck out five batters and walked four. "In my position on the mound I need to get up there and take that momentum back and I didn't do that. "
Miami third baseman Kevin Howard, who had an outstanding defensive performance, tied a school career record for doubles (65) and drove in the Hurricanes' final run in the eighth inning. Sobieraj hit his sixth home run of the season in the eighth inning. Miami middle reliever Luke DeBold was hit in the dugout by a Brad Safchik line drive and may be lost for the tournament, which forced Bengochea to pitch eight innings (126 pitches) -- giving up six hits and two runs.
TUSCALOOSA: L.J. Biernbaum and Rusty Brown hit back-to-back homers for the second game in a row and Florida Atlantic beat Southeast Missouri 12-6 to advance to today's championship round.
Also, Jeremy Brown had two run-scoring singles and Zac Welch added a two-run double as host Alabama eliminated rival Auburn 6-3.
SOUTH BEND: Freshman Grant Johnson threw a one-hitter and Steve Sollmann went 6-for-7 with seven RBIs and set an NCAA tournament record with six runs scored as host Notre Dame beat top-seeded South Alabama 25-1.
Also Christian Snavely had four RBIs and Brett Garrard went 4-for-4 as Ohio State eliminated Kent State 12-8.
ATLANTA: Victor Menocal and Tyler Parker hit homers, and Chris Goodman pitched 61/3 shutout innings to lead Georgia Tech past Georgia 3-0 in Atlanta.
Also, Seamus Donovan pitched a complete game and every starter picked up at least one hit as Coastal Carolina eliminated Louisville 9-1.
COLUMBIA: Yaron Peters hit two home runs, including a two-run shot in a six-run first inning, breaking host South Carolina's record for homers in a season in a 9-6 win against North Carolina.
Also, Eddie Kim had three hits as James Madison beat VCU 5-2 in an elimination game.
CLEMSON: Matt Henrie held East Carolina to seven hits as host Clemson won 4-2.
Also, Brett Lewis held Elon to five hits in 72/3 innings as Georgia Southern won 6-2 survived.
LINCOLN: Shane Komine struck out 12 and allowed five hits as host Nebraska beat Marist 9-1.
Also, Matt Palmer scattered six hits and a run in 71/3 innings as Southwest Missouri State beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 6-1 to remain alive.
WINSTON-SALEM: Tim Stauffer struck out six and scattered seven hits in seven innings to lead Richmond past top-seeded host Wake Forest 3-2.
Also, Matt Foster struck out seven in 71/3 innings, and Craig Candeto and Brad Hager homered as Navy eliminated George Washington 6-4.