Florida’s Crawford tosses no-hitter
Sophomore throws seventh no-no in NCAA tournament history
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sophomore right-hander Jonathon Crawford made his NCAA tournament debut one to remember on Friday night, as he twirled the first no-hitter by a Florida pitcher in 21 years to lead the top-seeded Gators (43-18) to a 4-0 victory against fourth-seeded Bethune-Cookman (34-26) at McKethan Stadium.
Freshman Casey Turgeon (3-for-4) drove in all four runs for the Orange and Blue with an RBI single in the second inning and a three-run homer in the fifth. With the triumph, UF will next face No. 24 Georgia Tech (37-24) in a winner’s bracket game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, while the Wildcats will meet the College of Charleston (37-21) in an elimination game at 1 p.m.
“What a way to start the Regional play,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “The guy to my right [Crawford] had a special night, it was a great night by Jonathon. We needed a good start from our starting pitcher. I thought their starting pitcher was going to be outstanding, and he was. I thought we did a good job getting his [Gonzalez] pitch count up. It is one of those games where we knew it was going to be tight. Bethune is always a very good team. It’s one of those teams, that when it pops up on the board, there is a feeling of a little bit of anxiety because they are very capable. We needed a special outing by Jonathon. I am very proud of Jonathon, but also very proud of our team.”
|6/15/1960||Jim Wixson||Oklahoma St.|
|5/31/1963||Bob Fenton||Penn St.|
|5/28/1967||Jim Hogarty||Air Force|
|5/23/1974||Jack Kucek||Miami (Ohio)|
After pitching just 3.2 innings as a freshman last year, Crawford drew the starting assignment in Florida’s NCAA tournament opener tonight and became the first Gator hurler to register a complete-game no-hitter since John Burke accomplished the feat in a 2-0 shutout of Furman on May 23, 1991, that was the Gators’ opener in the NCAA East Regional held at McKethan Stadium. Florida’s last combined no-hitter occurred on March 19, 1993, when the duo of Doug Brennan (7.0) and Chris Nelson (2.0) defeated Pace 16-0.
Crawford (6-2), whose previous career-high stint was six innings against LSU on April 6, went the distance on 98 pitches (70 of them strikes) and faced the minimum of 27 batters. The righty issued a one-out walk to Wildcat freshman Jake Welch in the third inning, who was gunned down trying to steal second by junior catcher Mike Zunino. Crawford also benefitted from tremendous defensive plays by his teammates, including several by freshman third baseman Josh Tobias and a game-ending stab of a line drive hit by junior Carlos Delgado that required a leaping catch by Turgeon at second base. Crawford threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 27 batters and totaled five strikeouts without permitting any runners to reach second.
“Last year, we left him off the roster in Omaha, and it was a very tough decision, but it was one that we felt like it needed to be made,” O’Sullivan said. “Jonathon was much improved this fall, very open-minded to changes and has worked extremely hard. I have been hard on him, and on top of that we have asked him to have multiple roles this year -- Friday starter, Saturday starter and reliever. This is what coaching is all about -- when you feel like you help a player get close to reaching his potential. I am awfully proud of him, where he came from, but he knows that when he comes here tomorrow it’s a whole new game.”
On facing the last batter in the top of the ninth and his performance on the night, Crawford said, “I was scared for a second that he (Carlos Delgado) would get a hit, but Casey [Turgeon] jumped up and caught it. I was aware I had a no-hitter all along. It feels great, my defense played really well, so it feels great to come out there and get my team off to a great start.”
On when he realized that he could have a no-hitter Crawford exclaimed, “When I came in after the eighth, it kind of hit me. I was really excited and nervous at the same time. That’s when it really hit me that I could possibly have a no-hitter for the first time.”
The Gators put a pair of runners on base with one down in the first but B-CU senior Rayan Gonzalez (9-2) had junior Brian Johnson hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Senior Preston Tucker (2-for-4) had a one-out single into right field and Zunino followed with a four-pitch walk before Gonzalez worked out of the jam by inducing the ground ball.
Turgeon opened the scoring with an RBI single in the second inning. Senior Daniel Pigott led off with a base-hit through the left side, moved into scoring position with his 10th stolen base in 11 attempts, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Turgeon’s base-hit into center field that raised his hitting streak to seven games. After a passed ball moved Turgeon to second, freshman Justin Shafer earned a free pass for a two runners aboard. Although junior Vickash Ramjit attempted to sacrifice both of his teammates into scoring position with a bunt, Turgeon was thrown out at third base on a fielder’s choice. A fly ball by Tobias to straightaway center field pushed Shafer to third and Gonzalez jammed junior Nolan Fontana on an infield fly to end the frame.
Crawford retired the first seven Wildcat hitters of the game before issuing a one-out walk to Welch, which would be the lone base-runner of the contest for Bethune-Cookman.
Turgeon collected his second hit with a single into left field to begin UF’s fourth and Shafer drew his second walk of the contest before Ramjit flew out to left field. Tobias waged a 13-pitch at bat with Gonzalez that featured nine-consecutive foul balls and wound up flying out to left field and Gonzalez struck out Fontana to keep the Wildcats down by a run.
Florida expanded its lead to 4-0 in the fifth inning a two-out, three-run homer by Turgeon into the left-field bleachers. Johnson roped a two-out single to right field and wound up on the third base after consecutive wild pitches by Gonzalez. A walk to Pigott gave the Gators runners on the corners and prompted a pitching change, as sophomore Bryan Rivera replaced Gonzalez (4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R). Turgeon belted the southpaw’s first pitch out of the yard for his fourth homer of the campaign and first since March 18 against Vanderbilt.
Florida enjoyed an 8-0 advantage in hits in improving its all-time mark to 28-0 versus the Wildcats.