Girand homers again, Florida beats FAU 5-2 to reach supers
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jonah Girand homered for the third time in four games, helping overall No. 1 seed Florida beat Florida Atlantic 5-2 early Tuesday and advance to the NCAA super regionals.
Girand’s two-run shot in the fourth off Jordan Poore (2-2) put the Gators ahead for the first time in two games against the Owls, who won the first one 7-4 to set up a winner-take-all finale.
Jonathan India and Wil Dalton added back-to-back homers in the fifth off Vince Coletti, giving the defending national champions a little breathing room against the pitching-depleted Owls (43-19-1).
Reliever Tommy Mace (5-0) tossed two scoreless innings for the win. Closer Michael Byrne got the final nine outs for his 15th save, sending Florida to its fourth consecutive super regional and 10th since 2004.
The Gators (45-18) will host Auburn in a best-of-three series that begins later this week, with a spot in the College World Series at stake. Florida is trying to become the seventh to repeat as CWS champs.
Girand has boosted the team’s chances. The junior catcher stepped in for injured captain JJ Schwarz (hand) in the regional and provided a huge spark at the bottom of the lineup. Two of his homers plated the go-ahead run in victories.
Florida had three players drafted during the two games, the first of which was delayed 4 hours, 41 minutes. India (fifth to Cincinnati), right-hander Brady Singer (18th to Kansas City) and right-hander Jackson Kowar (33rd to Kansas City) were chosen Monday night.
FAU shortstop Tyler Frank was taken by Tampa Bay in the second round.