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Tim Tebow being promoted to Mets’ affiliate in Florida

Tim Tebow is moving up and heading south — to some very familiar territory.

Tebow has been promoted to the New York Mets’ high Class A affiliate in St. Lucie, Florida. The 29-year-old Tebow led the University of Florida to two national championships in football and won the 2007 Heisman Trophy during his stellar career with the Gators.

Baseball has not been as easy for the 29-year-old outfielder. He entered his final game with the Fireflies hitting just .222 with three homers and 23 RBIs — numbers that usually don’t lead to a promotion.

“For me, it’s not something I have to answer,” Tebow said. “There’s a lot smarter, wiser people than me that make those decisions. I just try and show up and play hard every day.”

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson announced the promotion prior to the major league club’s game in San Francisco. He said Tebow’s performance had trended positively the past two or three weeks and the Mets thought it was a good time for his promotion.

“Clearly, it’s a step up,” Alderson said. “I certainly think he can handle it.”

Tebow has been a smash hit with fans the past three months in the South Atlantic League. The Fireflies are second in the league with an average attendance of 5,230 before Sunday, and Tebow’s presence has led to sellouts and big crowds at nearly every road stop.

He is happy to be headed back to the Sunshine State, where he still has family, friends and many, many supporters in Gator colors.

“I obviously love Florida so this is nice,” he said with a grin. “But the goal and focus is improving as a baseball player.”

Tebow’s first pro baseball stop had a storybook start with a home run in his first at-bat. He added another homer three games later, but he has been mostly inconsistent at the plate.

That’s baseball, Tebow said. He went 0 for 3 during Saturday’s win over Kannapolis, but drove in two runs.

“I know that my progress has led me to having three good at-bats, to bring in two guys,” he said. “As an athlete you can’t worry about those things. You have to focus on, ‘Am I seeing the pitches? What am I doing with them? Am I doing damage with them?’”

Tebow certainly looked comfortable in the Fireflies’ clubhouse, despite being a decade older than several of his teammates.

“We’ve said he’s just one of 25 guys,” Columbia president John Katz said. “At the end of the day, he really is. He wants to succeed. He puts in the work and hopefully, he’ll have continued success at a higher level.”

That’s Alderson’s wish, too, as Tebow continues a journey that he hopes ends at Citi Field in New York.

“I wouldn’t say he has excelled” at Columbia, Alderson said. “But at the same time, what he’s done there — given all the circumstances — justified the promotion.”

Alex Faedo pitches Gators into College World Series finals

Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 7 1/3 shutout innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

No. 3 national seed Florida (50-19) will play Southeastern Conference rival LSU in the best-of-three finals beginning Monday night. Fourth-seeded LSU (52-18) advanced with a 6-1 win over No. 1 Oregon State on Saturday.

TCU (50-18) had beaten the Gators 9-2 on Friday to force the winner-take-all bracket final and the teams’ third meeting in a week.

Faedo (9-2) struck out 11, just as he did last Sunday in a 3-0 win over the Horned Frogs. Michael Byrne finished for his 18th save.

The Gators had struggled on offense since they arrived in Omaha, but with Faedo holding down the Frogs they were able to muster enough against Jared Janczak (9-2).

Austin Langworthy doubled and scored on a groundout in the second inning, Christian Hicks doubled in a run in the fifth, and he scored in the seventh when he tripled and came home on Deacon Liput‘s grounder that deflected off first base.

Faedo reached for his right calf in apparent pain after delivering a pitch to Josh Watson in the seventh, and he grabbed the calf again when he struck Watson out to end the inning. The Detroit Tigers‘ first-round draft pick came out for the eighth and got a groundout, but he left after Austen Wade singled.

Zach Humphreys greeted Byrne with a base hit, but the star closer struck out Evan Skoug and got Cam Warner to fly out to end the threat.

Janczak and Faedo were matched up for the second time. Janczak, who struggled against the Gators last Sunday, struck out seven, walked none and scattered seven hits in seven innings.

Skoug singled off Faedo in the first, and the Florida ace walked three in the first four innings before finding a groove. He picked off Ryan Merrill at first in the fourth inning and retired nine of the next 10 batters.

Florida will be playing for its first national championship in baseball. TCU has made it to Omaha four straight years, and a fifth time overall, and is yet to reach the finals.

GUTHRIE INJURED

Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie, son of former big league pitcher Mark Guthrie, left the game with back pain after striking out in the top of the third. Liput moved from second base to shortstop, and Blake Reese took over at second.

QUIRKY BOUNCE

TCU caught a bad break with two outs in the seventh when Liput’s high bouncer heading right at first baseman Connor Wanhanen deflected off the bag toward surprised second baseman Cam Warner, who couldn’t make the play at first. If the Frogs get Liput, the inning’s over. As it was, Hicks was able to score from third for a 3-0 lead.

THE MATCHUP

Florida won two of three regular-season meetings with LSU in Gainesville in March. The Tigers will be the home team in Game 1 of the finals and the Gators in Game 2. LSU would be the home team if a Game 3 is necessary.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Orioles avoid dubious mark with 8-3 win over Rays

Dylan Bundy helped Baltimore avoid a dubious pitching record, throwing seven solid innings as the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 Saturday.

The Orioles had given up at least five runs in 20 straight games, matching the major league mark set by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

Bundy (8-6) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings. Relievers Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens combined to keep the Rays scoreless over the final two innings.

Jose Alvarado (0-3) walked the only batter he faced, Seth Smith, leading off the seventh. He was replaced by Jumbo Diaz, who gave up a two-run double to Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini‘s two-run homer that put Baltimore ahead 7-3.

Baltimore also got a second-inning, two-run homer from Welington Castillo and Adam Jones hit a solo shot in the third.

Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria homered on consecutive pitches in the third for the Rays.

Rays catcher Wilson Ramos singled in four at-bats in his season debut. The 2014 NL All-Star with Washington missed the first 76 games this season after right knee surgery.

Tampa Bay rookie Jake Faria wound up with a no-decision after winning each of his first three starts in the majors. He permitted three runs and five hits over six innings.

Faria had pitched at least 6 1/3 innings in his first three starts, allowing one run each time.

The Rays tied it at 3 in third when Dickerson had a two-run drive before Longoria went deep on Bundy’s next pitch.

Tampa Bay set a team mark with their major league-leading 10th set of back-to-back homers this season. Tampa Bay has sixth straight multihomer games, one off the franchise high.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: Closer Zach Britton (left forearm strain) could move his rehab assignment from Class-A Delmarva to Double-A Bowie on Monday.

Rays: RHP Brad Boxberger (strained flexor mass) was expected to be reinstated from the disabled list this weekend but has oblique discomfort and will have a Sunday bullpen session.

SMITH’S SURPRISE

NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith surprised his sister Marsha Smith-Hill, who threw the ceremonial first pitch as part of a cancer survivor salute, by joining her on-the-field.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.39 ERA) makes his 10th start since returning from right shoulder bursitis in the series finale Sunday. He allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings Tuesday, but Baltimore’s 6-5 comeback win over Cleveland enabled him to avoid losing a sixth straight start.

Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 3.78 ERA) will look Sunday to avoid tying Wilson Alvarez‘s team record set in 1998 of allowing a homer in 11 consecutive appearances.

Reprinted with permission from the Associated Press.

Jeb Bush, Romney join forces to pursue Marlins

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.

Bush has joined forces with businessman Tagg Romney in a group trying to buy the Marlins, two people familiar with the negotiations said Friday. The people confirmed Bush’s new role to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the parties involved in the sales talks aren’t commenting publicly.

One of the people said South Florida businessman Jorge Mas has contacted the Marlins to say he’s leading a group interested in buying the franchise, meaning at least three groups are pursuing a deal.

Bush and Jeter, the 14-time New York Yankees All-Star shortstop, led rival groups earlier this year. They then joined forces, but Bush dropped out in May.

Now they’re rivals again, and Jeter is still exploring financing options.

The Romney-Bush group also includes Quogue Capital investment fund founder Wayne Rothbaum, Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and former Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart.

The Romney and Jeter groups have bid about $1.3 billion to buy the team from Jeffrey Loria but have not yet raised the money needed. Jeter met Thursday with Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and Marlins president David Samson, and told them he doesn’t yet have the necessary money and is still seeking help from other investors.

Loria bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry.

Mas is the chairman of the board and co-founder of MasTec, an infrastructure construction business, and chairman of the board of the Cuban American National Foundation, a Miami-based organization committed to bringing democracy to Cuba.

Bush also lives in Miami, served two terms as governor from 1999-2007 and was an unsuccessful candidate last year for the Republican nomination for president.

Romney, the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is a Massachusetts businessman and venture capitalist.

One of the people confirming Bush’s withdrawal from the bid with Jeter in May said the former governor didn’t put up enough of his own money to have the controlling interest he sought. The commissioner’s office wants the purchasing group to demonstrate it has enough cash both to close the deal and operate the team.

The value of the franchise has climbed dramatically even though the Marlins haven’t been to the postseason since 2003, the longest current drought in the National League. They were last in the NL in attendance 11 of the past 12 years despite a 2012 move to Marlins Park.

A sale requires approval of at least 75 percent of the major league clubs.

Evan Longoria, Shane Peterson lead Rays rout of Orioles

Evan Longoria and Shane Peterson drove in four runs apiece to back the pitching of Chris Archer and lead the surging Tampa Bay Rays to a 15-5 victory over the struggling Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

Peterson and Derek Norris hit two-run homers off Ubaldo Jimenez (2-3) as Orioles pitchers allowed at least five runs for the 20th consecutive game, tying a major league record set by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

Longoria had a two-run single during Tampa Bay’s four-run first inning, and Peterson and Norris both went deep in the third to chase Jimenez, who yielded nine runs, seven hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings.

Logan Morrison also had a big night for the Rays, hitting his 22nd homer and finishing with three RBIs.

Archer (6-4) wasn’t especially sharp. But the right-hander didn’t have to be with the Rays posting a season-high for runs.

Jonathon Schoop and Trey Mancini each drove in two runs off the Tampa Bay starter, who allowed five runs and eight hits over six innings.

Rookie reliever Austin Pruitt inherited a 14-5 lead and pitched the final three innings for his first big league save.

The Orioles fell to 6-14 over a dubious stretch that’s seen them allow 10 or more runs six times. The Rays scored five runs on one hit – Norris’ infield single – in the fifth inning, and Jiminez’s ERA jumped from 6.25 to 7.26 during his shortest outing of the season.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter rejoined the team after missing Thursday night’s 6-3 loss to Cleveland while attending the birth of his first grandchild.

Tampa Bay has won five of six to climb a season-best four games over .500.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Darren O’Day (shoulder) was reinstated from the 10-day DL. … CF Adam Jones, who has missed time with a sore hip, was back in the lineup after being rested Thursday. Friday’s game began a stretch of six straight games on artificial turf for Baltimore.

Rays: SS Matt Duffy, who had his rehab assignment for offseason Achilles’ tendon surgery shut down due to heel soreness, had a pea-sized calcium deposit removed this week. … OF Colby Rasmus was placed on the 10-day DL with left hip tendinitis.

HELP ON THE WAY

Rays manager Kevin Cash said there is a “good chance” C Wilson Ramos (right knee surgery) and RHP Brad Boxberger (flexor mass strain) will return from the DL this weekend. Neither has played a big league game this season.

UP NEXT

Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy (7-6) and Rays rookie RHP Jake Faria (3-0) are Saturday’s starters. According to Baseball Reference, Faria is the fifth pitcher since 1913 to go at least six innings, allow one or fewer runs and get the win in his first three career starts.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Tampa Bay Rowdies blanked in 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh Riverhounds

The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell to their first USL defeat in nearly a month on Thursday night, falling 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium.

Riverhounds forward Chevaughn Walsh scored the only goal of the match in the 11th minute on an assist from former Rowdies forward Corey Hertzog.

The Rowdies imposed their will on the match between the 18-yard boxes, but wasn’t clinical enough in front of goal to equalize Pittsburgh’s early goal. The Rowdies had 62 percent of possession and tallied 16 shots in the match.

Pittsburgh’s young, speedy team was lethal on the counterattack. Walsh’s goal came after a lovely, long pass forward from Hertzog in between the Rowdies’ defenders. Walsh took a couple of touches to establish control before beating Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens with a shot from the top of the 18-yard box.

Hertzog had a chance to double Pittsburgh’s lead less than a minute later on another chance created by a long pass over the top of the Rowdies, but he took too many touches and didn’t have time to shoot.

In the 25th minute, Pickens made a big save on a shot from inside the box and then watched a second shot sail over the crossbar.

Joe Cole had the Rowdies’ best scoring chance of the first half in the 30th minute, but his shot was saved by Riverhounds goalkeeper Keasel Broome.

Four minutes into the second half, Pickens made another big save on a point-blank shot by Ben Fitzpatrick to keep the Rowdies’ deficit at just one goal.

Alex Morrell, making his third USL start of the season, had a shot in the 57th minute, but it was saved by Broome at the near post.

As the Rowdies chased the match, Pittsburgh’s Romeo Parkes led a quick counter to double the home side’s lead in the 88th minute and put the match out of the Rowdies’ reach.

Though they were down two goals, the Rowdies kept pushing.

Broome made an unreal series of three rapid-fire saves, denying Keith Savage, Georgi Hristov and Tamika Mkandawire in the first minute of stoppage time. Broome made another save just before the final whistle to finish his clean sheet.

Up next, the Rowdies close their three-game road trip in Charleston against the Battery on Saturday, July 1 before returning home to host FC Cincinnati on Thursday, July 6.

Scoring Summary

Riverhounds: Chevaughn Walsh – 11th minute (assisted by Corey Hertzog)

Riverhounds: Romeo Parkes – 88th minute (assisted by Kevin Kerr)

Caution Summary

Rowdies: Martin Vingaard – 55th minute

Starting Lineups

Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire, Neill Collins, Luke Boden; M Martin Vingaard (Keith Savage 78′), Marcel Schäfer; M Alex Morrell, Joe Cole (c), Georgi Hristov; F Martin Paterson

Pittsburgh XI (4-4-2): GK Trey Mitchell; D Marshall Hollingsworth, Gale Agbossoumonde, Lalas Abubakar, Michael Green; M Danny Earls, Kevin Kerr (c), Ben Fitzpatrick (Stephen Okai 77′), Kenroy Howell; F Chevaughn Walsh (Romeo Parkes 60′), Corey Hertzog

Up Next

The Tampa Bay Rowdies will play on the road next Saturday, July 1 against the Eastern Conference leaders Charleston Battery.

They will then return home to face FC Cincinnati on Thursday, July 6. Kickoff for that match will be at 8 p.m. and it will include a postgame concert by Kool & The Gang! For tickets, call (727)222-2000.

Magic take FSU’s Jonathan Isaac with first round pick

The Orlando Magic have chosen Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac with their first-round pick in the NBA Draft. Some pundits thought Orlando would go with shooting guard Malik Monk  of Kentucky, but Isaac brings many attributes that can make him a star in the league.

Isaac, a native of New York City, but a product of IMG Academy in Bradenton, was pleased to be selected by the Magic.

“Man, it means everything,” he said about his opportunity to remain close to home. “Maybe I would have loved to be drafted by a New York team so I could come home, but it is kind of home for me. I’ve been living in Florida for 9 years, so it feels great.”

Isaac does not possess the shooting touch of some of the other top picks, but he is long and athletic. At 6 feet and 10 inches, but only 210 pounds, Isaac understands perfectly that he needs to beef up to play forward in the NBA.

“I’ve definitely got to get stronger,” he said following his selection. “That’s the first thing I’ve got to focus on. “I’m going to gain weight, but the first thing is I’ve got to get stronger.”

During his one season playing for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, Isaac averaged 12 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game. He was a 35 percent three-point shooter, but with the distance a bit longer in the NBA, he will need to work on his shot to maximize his offensive game.

Isaac became the third Florida State player to be chosen in the first round. Dave Cowens was the first pick of the Boston Celtics in 1970 and George McLeod was the top pick of the Indiana Pacers in 1989.

Isaac was the 6th consecutive freshman chosen in this year’s draft, a record. He will get his first taste of professional basketball beginning July 1 when the Orlando Summer League begins.

With their second pick of the first round and 25th overall, the Magic took center Anzejs Pasecniks from the Spanish pro league. They traded the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for a future first round pick.

Seminoles season ends in Omaha again; Gators in good position

The Florida State baseball season ended with a loss in Omaha, Neb. on Wednesday night, just like it has 21 other times before. This time it was the LSU Tigers sending the Seminoles home from the College World Series with a 7-4 victory, meaning FSU Coach Mike Martin will have to wait another year.

Unlike their first meeting, where LSU scored two late runs to snatch a 5-4 victory, the Tigers jumped out early and kept Florida State at arm’s length. A 5-run second, capped by a three-run homer by first baseman Jake Slaughter, knocked out starter Cole Sands and brought in Andrew Karp.

FSU began to chip away with a solo home run by first baseman Drew Mendoza in the bottom of the second. In the 6th, DH Quincy Nieporte nearly had a three-run homer, but settled for a long sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.

Karp kept FSU in range with 5 innings of three-hit, no-run relief. He struck out 7.

But in the 9th inning, Mendoza threw high to catcher Cal Raleigh in an attempt to nail Kramer Robertson at the plate. That led to two LSU insurance runs.

LSU starter Jared Poche’ gave up back-to-back homers to Nieporte and Raleigh to start the 9th and bring FSU within 7-4. Poche’ gave way to closer Zack Hess, who struck out the side.

The final strike of the season, delivered to Tyler Holton, was at least 6 inches outside, but that summarizes the Seminoles frustrating history at the College World Series. The first game loss to the Tigers on Saturday also contributed to the ongoing the narrative.

Florida State finishes the season with a 46-23 record and the ACC Tournament, NCAA Regional and NCAA Super Regional Champions. After struggling through much of the season, they won 19 of their final 24 games and made a trip to Omaha few, if anyone, would have imagined four weeks ago.

LSU now goes on to face Oregon State in the top bracket of the tournament. The Tigers must defeat the top-ranked Beavers twice to advance to the championship series. Oregon State has lost only four games all year and thrashed the Tigers 13-1 in the first meeting on Monday.

In the bottom bracket, the Florida Gators await the winner of Thursday’s Louisville vs. TCU elimination game. Whoever wins that game must beat the Gators twice, beginning Friday, to prevent them from heading to the championship round.

 

Rays shut down Reds 8-3

This dash to third base was a bit different for Mallex Smith.

The Tampa Bay left fielder rushed in to tag out speedy Billy Hamilton after a lengthy rundown, highlighting the Rays‘ 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.

“When you get the fast guy like that, you’ve got to bring our fast guy and run him down,” Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr.

Hamilton stole his major league-leading 31st base in the fourth inning. But he later got trapped when he thought about scoring from second base on a two-out grounder by Eugenio Suarez that shortstop Daniel Robertson bobbled.

It took five throws to nab Hamilton between home and third, with six Rays lined up ready to take part in the rundown. Smith hurried from the outfield and was stationed at third to take a throw and tag Hamilton.

“Who knew he could play infield?” Souza said.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Smith was the first left fielder to make a rundown putout since Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun on April 8, 2016, on Houston’s Carlos Gomez after four throws on a stolen base attempt.

Smith singled twice, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. The string has taken place since he was recalled from Triple-A Durham on June 9 to replace Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, out with a broken right hip.

“He’s ignited our offense,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

“He creates havoc,” Souza added.

Trevor Plouffe homered for his new team and Taylor Featherston also connected for Tampa Bay. Souza and Logan Morrison each drove in two runs.

The Rays also cost themselves on the bases. Plouffe and Featherston both were thrown out at third attempting to advance on hits, and Souza was picked off second.

“We overcome some mistakes, obviously,” Cash said.

Erasmo Ramirez (4-2), who was 0-2 with a 10.06 ERA over his previous four starts, held the Reds hitless until Scott Schebler launched his 20th home run leading off the fifth.

Schebler added an RBI single in the sixth. Cincinnati dropped the final two games of the series after winning the opener to stop a nine-game skid.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It would have been a good feel to not just break a losing streak but to win a series.”

Chase Whitley entered with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, and worked out of the jam. He pitched the ninth to get his second save.

Plouffe was cut by Oakland last week. He hit a solo homer in a two-run fourth off Tim Adleman (4-4) that put Tampa Bay up 3-0.

“First impressions go a long way, and this park didn’t leave a good one,” Adleman said of Tropicana Field. “That’s tough to have a white roof when you play with a white ball, and catwalks everywhere. That doesn’t seem like a major league baseball game.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

OF Colby Rasmus sat out because of hip soreness. He missed the first month of the season recovering from hip surgery. … SS Tim Beckham, hit by a pitch on the left hand Monday, didn’t play.

GETTING A BREAK

Rays 3B Evan Longoria, mired in a 2-for-19 slide, was rested.

LEGO LEAGUE

Lego artist Nathan Sawaya threw the ceremonial first pitch with a baseball he made out of Legos.

SPECIAL STRETCH

Reds 1B Joey Votto walked three times and has reached base safely in 21 straight games. He also had a 27-game on-base stretch earlier this season.

UP NEXT

RHP Chris Archer (5-4) looks to improve on his 3-7 record and 4.69 ERA against Baltimore in the opener of a three-games series with Orioles on Friday night.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Tampa Bay Rowdies release Deshorn Brown to sign with D.C. United

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have released forward Deshorn Brown, allowing him to sign with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, the club announced Tuesday.

“We wish Deshorn the best of luck in D.C. United,” said Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell. “He’s a very talented player, who will be an asset to any club he joins in his career. It’s been a privilege to coach him in his time at the Rowdies. We knew this was an opportunity Deshorn couldn’t turn down, and as a club, we didn’t want to stand in the way of his ambitions to return to MLS.”

Brown scored three goals in 15 appearances for the Rowdies this season after signing with the club in March.

Brown came to the Rowdies after playing for Shenzhen in the China League One. He previously played for the Colorado Rapids in MLS and Vålerenga in Norway.

 

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