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June 1, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Bookended by two singles, the third walk issued by University of Florida sophomore starting pitcher Johnny Magliozzi began the decisive seventh inning, as fourth-seeded Valparaiso University scored four runs in the frame to seize the lead. Crusaders' senior relief pitcher Kyle Wormington threw three shutout innings and Valpo defeated the Florida Gators 5-4 Saturday afternoon at Bart Kaufman Field to end UF's season.
The Crusaders notched their first NCAA Tournament win in 47 years.
Junior relief pitcher Daniel Gibson relieved Magliozzi with the bases loaded and the Gators in possession of a three-run lead. A full count pitch induced the ground ball the Lutz native needed to minimize the damage. The ball short-hopped sophomore third baseman Josh Tobias, and the ball trickled past him. Crusaders' shortstop Spencer Mahoney scored Valpo's second run, an unearned tally, and the bases remained loaded.
"I just tried to keep it in front of me and just got off my chest and got behind me," Tobias said. "I should have stayed down better."
Gibson walked the next two hitters on nine pitches, forcing in two runs to tie the game. Each run was charged to Magliozzi.
"With the bases loaded, you've got no choice but to throw strikes," O'Sullivan said. "We were calling fastballs down the middle. Our players know, our pitchers know, I'd rather give up a hit than a walk. We were not trying to be too fine. You look back, there might have been two breaking balls called in the sequence. (We) just didn't throw strikes."
Gators Coach Kevin O'Sullivan lifted Gibson in favor of sophomore relief pitcher Ryan Harris with the bases still full of Crusaders.
Valpo right fielder Chris Manning swung at the first pitch, and Dent made a good play to keep the ball on the infield, allowing just the one run to score. That tally proved to be the difference.
The seventh-year coach said Magliozzi gave his team the chances they needed to win. The East Milton, Mass., native stranded three Crusaders' base runners in the second inning to preserve his team's one run deficit, created by Mahoney's first home run of the season, a wind-abetted shot to left-center field.
"The bottom line about Johnny Magliozzi is if he doesn't perform like he did all year long, we would not be playing in this tournament," O'Sullivan said. "His numbers say that and his heart says that. He single-handedly got us to this point."
UF wrested the lead from the Crusaders in the fourth with their second three-run inning in as many days. Freshman left fielder Harrison Bader reached on an infield single that bounced off the mound. Tobias doubled into the left-center field gap-the second of his four hits-and Bader scored from first without a throw. Sophomore designated hitter Zack Powers singled to put runners on the corners. Senior shortstop Cody Dent recorded his only hit of regional play, a two-run double down the right field line.
With no men out, freshman center fielder Richie Martin decided to bunt of his own accord. He fouled out to Crusaders' catcher Billy Cribbs. Sophomore second baseman Casey Turgeon followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Sophomore right fielder Justin Shafer grounded into a double play.
Valpo Coach Tracy Woodson gave a standard answer when asked about retiring Martin.
"Every out, every out's big, and especially in that situation," Woodson said.
The Gators added another run in the next inning as Tobias singled to drive home Bader, who hit a two-out, two-strike single and stole second to put himself in scoring position. The Greensboro, N.C., native picked him up to extend the Gators' lead to 4-1.
The Gators, though, stranded 11 base runners. He said the most disappointing aspect of the loss is the lack of development from some players as the season progressed.
"I don't think we've seen improvement with some players that we thought we would at this point," O'Sullivan said. "You know, we have a standard at Florida, and I don't think we met that standard."
Valparaiso, in contrast, recovered aptly from their heart-breaking walk-off loss Friday night against the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers.
"It's a huge win, a huge boost and we have been working at it all year," Mahoney said. "In years past we have had a great group of guys that have come through the program and been able to build it.
"I think Coach Woodson has build this program up to where it is now and we are just looking to move forward. All the credit in the world to Florida. They played a great game and we were just lucky enough to come out on top today."
O'Sullivan dismissed the notion that this season was an aberration.
"This season is not the standard we want in Florida," he said. "There's no rebuilding at Florida. I keep hearing that all year long. We've got young players, but it's time to grow up. They are not freshmen anymore."