Fontana's Walk-Off Puts Florida Baseball in Gainesville Regional Championship

Nolan Fontana made two dazzling plays at shortstop to help keep the game close, but his bases-loaded RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth pushed Florida (47-16) past in-state rival Miami (37-22), 5-4. Fontana even got the shaving cream pie in the face for the walk-off winner. The loss pushed the Gators winning streak against the Hurricanes to seven straight and ten out of the past eleven. It was a back-and-forth contest that the 'Canes ultimately threw away with their sloppy play. Miami committed four errors, all of them leading to Florida runs.

Without further ado, on to the highlights...

Miami struck first off of Florida ace Hudson Randall when Nathan Melendres popped a sac fly to center field, scoring Brad Fieger, giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead in the third inning.

The 'Canes took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Stephen Perez.

Florida answered in the bottom of the fourth with three double in the inning to tie the game at 2-2. Mike Zunino hit his team-leading 21st double of the season to score Preston Tucker. The Gators got a second chance when Tyler Thompson popped a ball in foul-territory that third baseman Fieger dropped for an error. Thompson took advantage and belted a double to right to score Zunino and tie the game.

The Gators took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Fontana singled to left, moving Vickash Ramjit to third where a fielding error by left fielder Rony Rodriguez allowed Ramjit to get to home plate. Tucker hit his second double of the game to bring home Fontana, and give the Florida the lead, 4-2.

Miami wouldn't give up when Fieger hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth to narrow the gap to 4-3.

Big righty Greg Larson replaced Randall (6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 5 K, 2 BB) at the beginning of the seventh. Larson gave up a base-hit to the first hitter he faced Zeke DeVoss. DeVoss scored two batters later when Rodriguez laced an RBI single to right field, tying the game at 4-4.

All of these events set up for the heroics in the ninth for Florida. In fact, the only hit of the inning for the Gators was Fontana's game-winning RBI single. Daniel Pigott, who reached on a one-out error, scored the game winning run for the Gators who will play for the Gainesville Regional Championship Sunday.

In the other game in the Gainesville Regional, Jacksonville (37-23) eliminated Mahattan (34-19) 5-4. Jacksonville will now play Miami for the right to face Florida in the championship game. The contest between the Hurricanes and Dolphins will start at noon.

The winner faces the Gators at 4 p.m. In this double elimination tournament, the Miami/Jacksonville game will have to beat Florida twice to advance to the Super Regional. UF has not named a starter for today's game. Both games will be televised on ESPNU.

Here from Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan and Saturday's hero below.


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