Kent State, Arkansas big winners on Day 4
Golden Flashes eliminate top-seeded Gators with gritty victory
The Golden Flashes, who began the tournament as a No. 3 seed, started the College World Series playing second fiddle to the Stony Brook Seawolves as Cinderella.
Now Stony Brook has gone home, and thanks to Kent State, No. 1 Florida is headed out of Omaha after the Golden Flashes eliminated the Gators in a 5-4 win on Monday at TD Ameritrade Park.
Kent State head coach Steve Stricklin, whose team lost, 8-1, to Arkansas on Saturday, is most proud about his players getting revenge for that disappointing loss.
"That's the most important thing that we wanted as a team and as a program and as a university, was to make a statement that we belong here," Stricklin said. "We're not a fluke. We're a really good baseball team. That is the biggest win in school history."
Kent State (47-19) now faces No. 8 South Carolina (46-18) at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday in an elimination game.
South Carolina fell to Arkansas (46-20), 2-1, in Monday's nightcap. Florida (47-20) becomes only the second No. 1 national seed to advance to the College World Series and go winless in Omaha, joining the 2010 Arizona State squad.
"It's an unfortunate way to end the season, but I think Kent State deserves a lot of credit," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said.
Arkansas right-handers Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin combined to four-hit South Carolina in the day's second game to advance in the winner's bracket. The win also snapped South Carolina's 22-game winning streak in the tournament and 12-game College World Series mark, both NCAA records.
"It's one of those things that you don't know if it could happen, or if it will ever happen again," South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said of the streak. "It's been a pretty good run. I'm proud of what these guys did and how they battled."
Stanek received an early lead when shortstop Tim Carver -- the Phillies' 19th-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft -- led off the game with a single and came around on first baseman Dominic Ficociello's double.
The Razorbacks added a run in the fourth when Brian Anderson drew a leadoff walk, used a delayed steal to take second and scored on a single by center fielder Matt Vinson that knocked South Carolina starter Colby Holmes out of the game.
"It's always big when we score runs early. We know we're working with a cushion, and we can relax, and throw our game and keep attacking the zone," Stanek said. "I was able to throw my fastball for a strike and mix early, and continue to mix and throw everything for a strike throughout the game."
An RBI triple in the fifth inning by South Carolina center fielder Evan Marzilli (eighth round, D-backs) scored the Gamecocks' only run. Other than the fifth, the only inning in which South Carolina put more than one runner on was the first.
Stanek allowed three hits and struck out three in six innings of one-run ball, and Astin held South Carolina to one hit in three innings of relief to earn the save.
Gamecocks left-handed reliever Tyler Webb allowed only two hits in 5 1/3 innings, but his offense couldn't touch Stanek and Astin.
"I thought our guys battled hard up there, but their stuff was very special," Tanner said. "At least from my vantage point, I thought they were very, very good."
Arkansas' victory followed a nail-biting ending in the opener, as Kent State almost cracked in the ninth inning.
The Gators scored two runs in the seventh -- one on an RBI single by catcher Mike Zunino (third overall, Mariners) -- and trailed by one with their No. 2 hitter leading off the ninth.
It took Kent State two pitchers and 11 pitches to throw a ninth-inning strike, and after a sacrifice bunt, right-hander Josh Pierce hit Florida's Daniel Pigott to load the bases.
Pierce once again fell behind, 3-0, to Casey Turgeon, who watched two called strikes on the outside corner before trying unsuccessfully to check his swing.
Justin Shafer flied out to right to end the game.
Right-hander Ryan Bores (27th round, Rangers) earned the win while holding Florida to two runs in six innings, catcher David Lyon (34th round, Rangers) went 3-for-5 and shortstop Jimmy Rider (26th round, Pirates) had two hits to lead the Golden Flashes.
Florida starter Hudson Randall (seventh round, Tigers) left after only one inning because of heat-related symptoms. The first-pitch temperature of 95 degrees was the highest at the College World Series since June 11, 2001.
Randall was replaced by right-hander Jonathan Crawford, who was tagged for four runs in the second en route to the victory.
"We definitely feel like we deserve to be here, and hopefully we showed that out there today," Lyon said. "After Saturday night, we probably left a lot of doubt in people's minds. We kind of used the Cinderella story to our advantage -- just caught [them] thinking about their next game. We had to jump on them early and kind of shock them with that."
Kent State 5, Florida 4
Arkansas 2, No. 8 South Carolina 1
No. 2 UCLA (48-15) vs. No. 3 Florida State (49-16), 7 p.m. CT