GAINESVILLE | A recap of MSU’s 4-3 win over Florida in Game 2 of the Gainesville Super Regional. The series is tied 1-1.
• The buzz: Oh my. How ’bout Nick Vickerson? His two-run walk-off homer to left field in the ninth lifted MSU (38-24) and kept its season alive. He took the first pitch he saw from new reliever Steven Rodriguez and left no doubt, and the Bulldogs mobbed him as soon as he touched home plate. It completely wiped out a superb game by Florida starter Karsten Whitson, but much credit should go to MSU reliever Caleb Reed.
• Big inning: Well, the ninth. It started with a leadoff single by Jarrod Parks, who up to that point had been hitless with two strikeouts. That prompted a pitching change, with lefty Nick Maronde pulled in favor of Rodriguez, also a lefty. The right-handed Vickerson got a waist-high fastball.
• MSU at the plate: State had only one hit through six innings but finally broke through on Whitson in the seventh. Vickerson and Jaron Shepherd had one-out singles, and then DH Cody Freeman delivered an RBI single to cut UF’s lead to 2-1. That ended Whitson’s day, and the next batter, Brent Brownlee, tied the game with a single to center field off reliever Tommy Toledo. MSU had seven hits, two by Vickerson.
• Florida at the plate: The Gators (49-17) got 11 hits, but they couldn’t do a whole lot with Reed, who allowed one run on four hits. Bryson Smith was 3 of 5, while Mike Zunino and Josh Adams had two hits apiece. Zunino doubled to lead off the eighth and scored on Tyler Thompson‘s two-out triple to give Florida a 3-2 lead.
• MSU on the mound: Starter Nick Routt last 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs (both earned) on seven hits. He recorded no walks and no strikeouts. Reed (1-1) worked the final 5 1/3 innings and escaped trouble in the ninth after UF put two men on base with two outs.
• Florida on the mound: Whitson was nearly untouchable. He retired 13 straight hitters before MSU got to him in the seventh. He was charged with two runs on four hits, struck out six and walked one. The loss belongs, of course, to Rodriguez (3-2).
• Bottom line: The Bulldogs still have life, and they fought and scrapped just like Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan figured they would. Now it comes down to one game, and MSU has plenty of pitching (so does Florida, of course). Florida is trying to reach its seventh College World Series, MSU its ninth.
• Quotable: “I was just trying to hit a ball hard, and thankfully it went out of the park." – Vickerson, on his walk-off home run
• Up next: Game 3 is set for noon Central time, and as of right now neither coach has decided on a starting pitcher. MSU will likely go with lefty Luis Pollorena (7-5, 3.97) or righty Chris Stratton (5-7, 5.14).