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Rodriguez shuts down Vanderbilt, Gators finish 3-1 win

POSTED June 21, 2011 11:25 p.m.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Night or day, it didn’t matter to Florida’s Steven Rodriguez.
The pitcher did not give up a hit in 4 1-3 innings of relief over two days, and Florida finished off a 3-1 victory over Vanderbilt on Tuesday in the completion of a College World Series game suspended because of inclement weather.
The sophomore left-hander retired three batters Monday night before high winds and heavy rain disrupted the game in the bottom of the sixth. He struck out six of the 11 batters he faced Tuesday. He finished with seven strikeouts and a walk.
“Yesterday, when the sirens went off, I was kind of upset because I was dealing and I felt really good. I thought, ‘God, I don’t need this to happen right now,’ “ Rodriguez said. “It was super perfect today and things came out in my favor.”
Florida (52-17) beat its Southeastern Conference rival for the fourth time in five meetings this season and is now in control of Bracket 2. The Gators need a win over Vanderbilt (53-11) or North Carolina on Friday to advance to the best-of-three finals. The Commodores and Tar Heels play Wednesday.
“We’ve got a long way to go in this thing,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ll probably face a No. 1 pitcher for whoever we see Friday. This thing is a long way from over.”
Preston Tucker’s three-run homer off Vanderbilt starter Grayson Garvin (13-2) gave the Gators a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning.
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said the difference was “one swing” — Tucker’s.
“That is the way the game’s played, particularly when you’ve got two very even teams,” Corbin said. “And I know that they’ve had their way in terms of the outcome, but that doesn’t change my opinion in terms of the evenness between Florida and Vanderbilt.”
Anthony Gomez’s RBI single in the fifth scored the Commodores’ only run. Rodriguez took over for starter Kartsten Whitson after Gomez’s hit.
Whitson and Rodriguez combined on a four-hitter and 12 strikeouts.
“When you get 12 strikeouts against a Vanderbilt team, in my opinion, that’s an anomaly,” Corbin said. “That is a kid that’s executing his pitches. When kids like Aaron (Westlake) and Esposito and Gomez don’t get off good swings, there is a reason for that. It’s like shooting poorly in basketball. If you can’t get off a good shot because you have a hand in your face, then you’re not going to be as successful.”
Rodriguez faced four batters Monday before umpires waved players off the field as dark clouds moved in from the south and winds began picking up.
Tornado sirens were heard as Mike Yastrzemski flew out to left field. No tornado warning was issued for the Omaha area, however. Local officials ordered the sirens turned on because of the high winds.
Many fans left the stadium or sought shelter in the nearby Qwest Center, and others stood in the concourse or sat in seats covered by the second-deck overhang. The game was suspended after a 2½-hour delay.
“I was hopping around in the locker room trying to stay warm and hoping we could get back out there,” Rodriguez said. “It didn’t happen.”
Because Rodriguez threw just 11 pitches Monday, O’Sullivan said he didn’t have to think twice about sending him back out Tuesday. The coach said he might have made a different decision if Rodriguez had thrown more than 30 pitches.
“He’s well-rested, he’s strong and he’s durable,” O’Sullivan said. “There was no question we were going to run him back out there with the way his pitch count was.”
Rodriguez worked the outside corner and mixed in a fastball in the low 90s to shut down a Vanderbilt club that came into the CWS as the field’s top-hitting team and No. 5 nationally with a .319 average.
It took only 44 minutes to play the last 3 1-3 innings.

California 7, Texas A&M 3
OMAHA, Neb. — No. 9 batter Derek Campbell drove in two runs, closer Matt Flemer pitched three scoreless innings and California extended its most improbable season, beating Texas A&M 7-3 Tuesday at the College World Series.
The Bears (38-22) will play either Virginia or South Carolina on Thursday in another elimination game. The Aggies (47-22) went two games and out and are 2-10 in five all-time CWS appearances.
The Bears led 6-1 after scoring three runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth. Campbell, a .255 hitter who came in with five RBIs in 22 games, delivered RBI singles each inning.
Freshman Kyle Porter (6-0) allowed three runs in six innings. Flemer finished for his sixth save, giving up three singles and striking out five. They combined to stop an A&M club that had recorded 17 comeback victories this season.
Michael Wacha (9-4) was tagged for seven runs, four earned, in 6 2-3 innings.
California would need three more wins to reach the best-of-three championship round next week. Then again, the Bears coaches and players believe anything is possible after the way their season has evolved.
The Cal administration last fall announced plans to cut the program in 2012 for budgetary reasons, but boosters and alumni raised $9 million to save the Bears. The program was reinstated in April as the Bears were on their way to a sixth-place finish in the Pac-10.
After losing in the first round of regionals, they swept through the tournament before losing 4-1 to Virginia in their CWS opener Saturday.
The Aggies led 1-0 in the fourth after Adam Smith homered into the left-field bullpen.
The Bears responded with six runs the next two innings.
After Chad Bunting reached on an error and Darrel Matthews singled in the fifth, Campbell singled home the Bears’ first run.
Campbell singled into center for a five-run lead after Mitch Delfino’s RBI double and Bunting’s run-scoring single.
Cal manufactured another run in the seventh, with Tony Renda singling, moving over on a sacrifice and grounder and coming home on Devon Rodriguez’s single.
Texas A&M scored twice on three hits and an error in the sixth. Brandon Wood delivering a two-out single before Porter struck out Kenny Jackson to end the threat.
Flemer entered the next inning and held off the Aggies the rest of the way. He hasn’t given up a run in 8 2-3 innings over his last seven games.

South Carolina 7, Virginia 1
OMAHA, Neb. — Colby Holmes, John Taylor and Matt Price combined on a five-hitter and defending national champion South Carolina tied the record for consecutive NCAA tournament wins with a 7-1 victory over Virginia at the College World Series on Tuesday night.
Adrian Morales and Brady Thomas had three hits apiece for the Gamecocks, who won their 13th straight national tournament game to match the record held by Southern California (1972-74) and LSU (1997-98).
The Gamecocks (52-14) are off until Friday and would have to be beaten twice by Virginia or California to not return to the best-of-three finals next week. No. 1 national seed Virginia (55-11) plays California in a Thursday elimination game.
South Carolina scored three unearned runs in the first inning against Will Roberts (11-2), and five of its 13 hits went for extra bases.
Taylor (11-2) got the win with one-hit relief over a season-high 4 1-3 innings.


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