BY GEORGE RICHARDS
GAINESVILLE – The Hurricanes got the pitching they needed. Miami even got the big hit when it was desperate for one.
Only Miami's defense absolutely abandoned ship on Saturday and the Hurricanes season is over because of it.
The Hurricanes committed seven errors – including three crucial ones in the final two innings – and watched the host Gators celebrate a two game sweep of the super regional with a 4-3 win in 10 innings.
“Obviously we didn't play very good,'' coach Jim Morris. “You're not going to beat a great club by making seven errors and Florida is an outstanding club. It was frustrating all game to watch the defense. It's something that was our strength in the second half of the season and we didn't show that in this super regional. I was concerned, no question, when we make a few mistakes that they play with confidence and get after it. We didn't do that.''
The Gators became the first team to qualify for the 2010 College World Series which starts Saturday in Omaha, Neb. This is the sixth trip to the CWS for the Gators as they try to capture their first national title. Florida advanced to the finals in its previous trip to Omaha in 2005. As Florida celebrated, the Hurricanes walked off the field with their heads down.
The Hurricanes end their season 43-20 and have lost six of their previous seven games to their rivals from Florida dating back to last year's Gainesville regional. So, Florida has ended Miami's season the past two years.
“Our main goal is to get to Omaha and we didn't do it,'' said starting pitcher Chris Hernandez. “As a team, we see this as a failure. You see it in our faces. We're all upset. We wanted to get to Omaha and didn't do it.''
Miami led 3-2 with two outs in the ninth before it committed its sixth error. The seventh, which came in the 10th, tied a program record for most errors in a postseason game.
Before Saturday, Miami last committed seven errors in a playoff game against Clemson. In 1978.
Miami led 3-2 with one out in the ninth when reliever Daniel Miranda struck out Brian Johnson with the bases loaded. Florida sent soft-hitting Josh Adams to the plate and he grounded to short. Miami shortstop Stephen Perez threw lightly to first and Scott Lawson couldn't handle the throw. All runners were safe and the Gators tied the score. Third baseman Michael Broad made an error earlier in the inning adding an out to the Florida offense.
In the 10th, Miami right fielder Chris Pelaez failed to catch a high pop up off the bat of Nolan Fontana and Fontana raced to second. He moved to third on a sacrifice and ended up scoring the game-winning run on a two-out single from Austin Maddox.
Miami threatened in the bottom of the 10th when Pelaez led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. But Broad struck out looking to reliever Greg Larson and Rodriguez grounded out to short to end it.
Early on, the Hurricanes had been struggling to do much of anything offensively for a second straight night. On Friday, it was sophomore Alex Panteliodis who handcuffed the Hurricanes, pitching a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts.
On Saturday it was freshman Hudson Randall's turn to stymie the Miami bats – and for six innings, he was close to perfect.
Hudson had faced the minimum through the first six, the only Miami runners to reach being Scott Lawson (first inning single) and Rony Rodriguez (third inning error). Neither runner threatened, however, knocked off in double plays.
“I think they have the best pitching staff we've seen this year,'' Morris said.
Things changed in the seventh as Frankie Ratcliff lead off with a single. Hudson had put 11 straight down in order before that single.
With two outs, Pelaez singled putting runners on the corners. Florida coach Scott O'Sullivan brought in closer Kevin Chapman to face Nathan Melendres. The outfielder crushed a 1-1 pitch, sending it opposite field as it easily cleared the right field fence to give Miami its first lead of the series.
“It's unfortunate that we weren't able to hold the lead, but that's just the way it goes,'' Melendres said. “We made errors and handed them the game. It was definitely a boost, but they found a way to get it done. We gave it to them. That's baseball.''
Hernandez “pitched well enough to win,'' said Morris, as he came two outs from a complete game. Hernandez was lifted with one out in the ninth with runners on. He ended up giving up three hits in 8 1/3, striking out four and surrendering only three hits.