Omaha, NE – Despite coming into the College World Series as the top-ranked team, Florida will be the second team to head home, as Kent State defeated the Gators, 5-4, and eliminated them from the tournament.
The Golden Flashes took advantage of some shaky Florida fielding early in the game to take a 5-1 lead after four innings. However, Florida battled back within a run in the seventh, then stranded the bases loaded in the ninth.
Kent State grabbed a first-inning lead after Jimmy Rider reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Nolan Fontana. Two batters later, George Roberts singled him home for the game's first run.
Florida starting pitcher Hudson Randall appeared affected by the temperature, which hovered around 100 degrees on the field for much of the day. He left the game after the first inning because of what appeared to be dehydration.
Kent State tacked on three unearned runs in the second after Josh Tobias failed to field a sacrifice. With two on and two out, Kent State strung together three straight singles to tack on three runs.
Mike Zunino, the third overall pick of the Major League Baseball Draft, knocked in a run in the third to bring Florida within three runs.
Kent State took advantage of more Florida mistakes in the fourth. After Rider delivered a one-out double, two wild pitches brought him home to open up a 5-1 lead.
After a Justin Shafer double scored another run for Florida, the Gators made it a one-run game with two in the seventh.
The first three batters of the inning reached base before Zunino drove in his second run of the day. However, the Golden Flashes were able to minimize the damage, as the following hitter, Brian Johnson, grounded into a run-producing double play. Daniel Pigott then lined out to end the inning.
Kent State pitcher Michael Clark, who stranded two Florida baserunners in the eighth, was pulled after walking Preston Tucker to start the ninth and falling behind 2-0 to Zunino.
Josh Pierce entered and finished off the walk. After a sacrifice moved the runners, Pierce plunked Pigott to load the bases. Pierce fell behind Casey Turgeon 3-0, but came back to strike him out. Pierce then got Shafer to fly out to right to end the game and give Kent State their first-ever College World Series win.
In total, Florida stranded 12 runners on base en route to the season-ending defeat.
Ryan Bores picked up the win for Kent State, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.
Randall took the loss after giving up an unearned run in his only inning of work.
Tonight, Arkansas will battle the two-time reigning College World Series Champions, South Carolina, with the winner advancing to the semifinals.