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Gator Lefty Shuts Door on Vanderbilt

Written by Bashir Masani
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Florida’s sophomore left-hander, Steven Rodriguez, set down three batters Monday night before a storm suspended the game in the bottom of the sixth.  The storm caused the tornado sirens to go off but no tornado warning was issued.  On Tuesday, Rodriguez continued pitching the game and struck out six of the 11 batters he faced.  He ended up having seven strikeouts and just one base on ball.  Rodriguez tossed 4 1/3 innings of no-hit relief over a two-day span to give Florida a 3-1 win over conference rival Vanderbilt.

Of this rare scenario Rodriguez said, “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.’  It was a super perfect today and things came out in my favor.”

What was just as rare was the fact that the Gator pitchers were able to record 12 strikeouts against the Commodores.  Rodriguez took over in the fifth inning on Monday after starter, Kartsten Whitson, threw 4 2/3 innings with five strikeouts.  Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said, “When you get 12 strikeouts against a Vanderbilt team, in my opinion, that’s an anomaly.”  Vandy entered the College World Series as the top-hitting team, posting a .319 average that was good for 5th in the nation.

Florida (52-17) has now beaten their Southeastern Conference rival four times in five games this season.  With this win, the Gators now have control of Bracket 2.  They play the winner of the Vanderbilt-North Carolina game on Friday.  If they win that game, then they will advance to the best-of-three finals.

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