Seven SEC teams started the "Road to Omaha" on June 3 with the opening of the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Now, a week shy of the tournament's end, the conference's run is over. The Florida Gators, the SEC's lone participant in the 2016 College World Series, fell 3-2 to the Texas Tech Red Raiders in an elimination game Tuesday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park. The game began much like Florida's game on Sunday against Coastal Carolina -- as a pitcher's duel. The Gators turned to RHP Alex Faedo to start the game, and the regular Sunday starter allowed just two baserunners in the first three innings, both on harmless singles. Florida had two hits of their own in the first three frames, but much like the Red Raiders, they were both singles.
In the fourth, Texas Tech broke through. DH Cory Raley singled, stole second, went to third on a groundout, and scored when 1B Eric Gutierrez blasted a two-run home run. The Big 12 player of the year, a 20th-round pick of the Miami Marlins, gave his team a lead that would hold for good. Florida would get a baserunner in the fifth on a walk to 3B Jonathan India, but a double play ended the threat.
Just an inning later, Florida had another chance. Pinch hitter Jeremy Vasquez singled to begin the home half of the sixth, and SS Dalton Guthrie followed with a walk. After a sacrifice bunt, both were in scoring position. An intentional walk to 1B Pete Alonso loaded the bases, but DH JJ Schwarz bounced into a 1-2-3 double play, with the final out being called a runner interference.
The Gators were able to wiggle out of a jam themselves in the seventh with a double play, but Florida could not score in the bottom of the frame. Both teams again traded zeroes in the eighth.
In the ninth, Texas Tech plated the eventual winning run on a rare lapse by the Florida defense, as LF Tyler Neslony scored from first on a throwing error by India and a second throwing error by Alonso. Armed with a 3-0 lead to the bottom of the ninth, the Red Raiders seemed to be in good position to stay alive. Florida, though, did not go quietly. CF Buddy Reed led off the inning with a single, and Alonso followed with a mammoth blast to left field, a two-run homer that would trim the lead to just a run. LHP Hayden Howard recorded a strikeout and a popout to push the Gators to the brink of elimination. Up stepped India, who promptly slapped a single to left. Noting the urgency of the situation, India tried to stretch his hit into a double. A bullet of a throw from Neslony made sure that didn't happen. Neslony gunned down India at second, ending the game and sending the Gators packing. For the first time since 2007, the College World Series championship series will not feature an SEC team.