OMAHA, Neb. — Texas Tech first baseman Eric Gutierrez enjoyed a great view Tuesday for the end of Florida’s season.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jonathan India roped a base hit toward the corner in left field. As Tech’s Tyler Neslony raced to the ball, India passed Gutierrez and turned toward second base.
Gutierrez screamed to his shortstop, Orlando Garcia.
“‘Let it go! Let it go!”
And then to second baseman Michael Davis.
As Davis slapped the game-ending tag on India, Gutierrez could see the continued destruction of a College World Series bracket.
“I guess we just beat the No. 1 seed,” Gutierrez said. “Right?”
Freshman right-hander Davis Martin threw seven shutout innings, outdueling Florida’s Alex Faedo, a 13-game winner in what was supposed to be the nation’s best conference.
The best conference now, when it matters, looks like the Big 12.
Tadlock said he’s marveled at Oklahoma State’s play in the postseason and the work done by pitching coach Rob Walton. Thomas Hatch threw a complete-game shutout against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, followed Monday by eight shutout innings from Tyler Buffett.
The Cowboys won both games 1-0, a CWS first.
“I mean, holy cow, Rob Walton,” Tadlock said, “that guy’s a magician. For those guys to pitch like that and the way they have the last couple weeks, it’s been fun to watch from our angle.”
He may not find find it so fun to face those OSU pitchers in a best-of-three series for the national title. Of course, Tech would have to beat Coastal Carolina on Thursday, then take down TCU twice to make it to next week.
“We’re not here just to get a win and that’s it,” Gutierrez said. “Everyone’s goal is to win a national championship. From here, it’s possible. We can win here. Our team knows.”
As for Florida and the SEC, the Gators scored one run in 17 innings before Alonso’s two-run homer in the ninth. The 52-win team never found its feet offensively at the CWS. And its pitching staff, because of the short stay, could not capitalize on its depth.
A.J. Puk, the Gators’ 6-foot-7 left-hander — the first college pitcher selected this year at No. 6 overall in the major-league draft — worked to one batter in Omaha. He threw four pitches.
Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan insisted that nothing about this season rates as a failure for the Gators.
“If getting to Omaha’s been a failure,” he said, “I don’t look at it that way. Of course, we’re disappointed; of course, we want to stay here longer. But there’s eight teams out of over 300 to get here. We’ve been here five of the last seven, and we’ll be here again soon.”
When they do, maybe it will be the year for Florida, in search of its first national title. This year appears to belong to the Big 12.