Long Road to CWS for Florida's Horne
Alan Horne's career has been full twists and turns, but this season, he has led the Florida Gators down the road straight to Omaha.
|Florida opening pitcher Alan Horne delivers against Tennessee in the first inning on June 17. (AP)|
The 6-4 junior right-hander was a first-round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians with the 27th overall selection out of Marianna High School in Florida in 2001, but decided to attend Ole Miss and forgo a substantial signing bonus.
Horne was immediately successful at Ole Miss, posting a 5-2 record and 4.97 ERA in 12 starts as a freshman, and garnering honorable mention freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.
Horne made only five appearances in his sophomore season before suffering a season-ending elbow injury and undergoing "Tommy John" surgery on April 10, 2003. After the surgery, a player can take up to 24 months to completely rehabilitate and Horne decided to leave Ole Miss to do so.
Horne's road back to health took him to Chipola J.C. for the 2004 season, as well a summer in the Cape Code Baseball League with the Wareham Gateman. He was selected once again in the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft, but this time it was in the 30th round by the Anaheim Angels.
Finally, Horne's path led him back to the Southeastern Conference, when he transferred to the University of Florida before the spring semester.
Horne made an immediate impact on the Gator squad, working himself into the starting rotation and becoming a solid part of the Florida staff.
"He's continued to work hard all year long to get better and he loves to compete," said Florida head coach Pat McMahon. "You saw a guy competing his heart out."
Horne has shined in the NCAA postseason, tossing a pair of complete games against North Carolina and Florida State as the Gators sailed through regional and super regional competition.
Against Tennessee on Friday afternoon, Horne delivered another solid appearance, leading the Gators to victory as they advanced in the winner's bracket.
"Horne pitched really well early," said Tennessee head coach Rob Delmonico. "He kept us off balance, and we had a tough time getting a base hit early in the game with men in scoring position."
Horne opened the game by striking out the side, and continued his stellar performance through six-plus innings. He held the Vols to two runs, including one unearned, on four hits, while striking out eight batters.
"He's a bulldog on the mound," said Florida catcher Brian Jeroloman. "He's improved so much this year, it baffles me. He's an incredible pitcher. He works so hard in and out of practice -- I'm not surprised how good he's becoming as a pitcher. I'm very, very confident when I get to catch Alan, because chances are in favor of the Gators that day."
With the victory, Horne improved his record to 10-2 on the season and lowered his ERA to 4.01. He's won his last nine decisions and 12 of his last 13 starts.