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Gators, Seminoles win showdowns, advance to Super Regional

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Things were dicey for the Florida Gators baseball team on Monday, but when everything played out, they put away the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats to earn a spot in the Super Regional. For the Wildcats, they were not able to continue their magical run and ended the season with a 36-25 record.

As the game moved into the sixth inning, neither team could manage to put a run across the board. Part of the reason for the was the star of the game, Austin Longworthy. The two-way player got out of the third inning in relief of Kirby McMullen and put up zeroes in the fourth and fifth.

In the sixth inning, he came up with two on and launched a long home run to right to put Florida on top 3-0. After giving up a run in the seventh, Longworthy led off the eighth with a double and came around to score to make it 5-1.

Nelson Maldonado had an RBI single in the 9th inning to complete the scoring. The late offense backed up the combined 7-hitter by McMullen, Longworthy and Michael Byrne.

Florida will now face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Super Regional. As the number three national seed, the Gators will host the 14th-seeded Deacons.

In Tallahassee, the Florida State Seminoles shut out the Auburn Tigers, 6-0 to win the Tallahassee Regional at Dick Howser Stadium. Unheralded junior right hander Will Zirzow completely baffled the Tigers, limiting them to two hits in the complete game masterpiece.

Until Monday, the longest start of Zirzow’s career covered only five innings. He threw curveball after curveball for strike after strike while the offense provided enough run support to keep Seminole followers fairly comfortable throughout.

Zirzow struck out 11 and walked none. Catcher Blake Logan collected both Auburn hits, singles in the 6th and 9th inning.

Dylan Busby, just the second batter of the game for Florida State, doubled in Taylor Walls to open the scoring in the top of the first (the Seminoles played as the visiting team). FSU steadily increased the lead until Steven Wells capped the scoring with a home run in the top of the ninth.

With the victory, Florida State advances to the Super Regional, which they will almost certainly host. Tallahassee was paired with the Lubbock Regional featuring number 5 national seed Texas Tech. The Red Raiders suffered a shocking upset at the hands of Sam Houston State, the region’s number three seed, on Monday.

The official announcement of sites will come following completion of all regionals.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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