June 11, 2010

By Bob Ferrante
Special to the NCAA.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Not bad for a 41st-round draft pick.

Mike McGee smacked a solo home run over the 30-foot screen in right-center field with two out in the bottom of the ninth to lift Florida State to a 9-8 win over Vanderbilt in the first game of the best-of-three NCAA Division I baseball Super Regionals on Friday afternoon.

The FSU-Vanderbilt Super Regional was the first of eight across the country. And it provided drama to the very last moment of the 3-hour, 17-minute game that featured seven home runs and 28 hits.

McGee's blast on an 0-1 fastball off Chase Reid was his 15th home run of the season - and it came just two days after McGee, a junior, was picked in the 41st round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"He threw the first pitch right there and I took it," McGee said. "Then I happened to get another pitch that was good enough to hit and I really just tried to drive it." He certainly did. The first two batters of the inning, Tyler Holt and Sherman Johnson, both hit deep fly balls to center field - but both were just long outs.

McGee's shot capped a see-saw game. FSU (46-17) led 6-0 after two innings only to see its lead evaporate in the sixth as Vanderbilt tied the game. The Commodores (45-19) scored a run each in the top of the seventh and eighth, only to have FSU respond in the bottom half of each inning.

FSU's Jayce Boyd hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to tie the game at 8, and Seminoles sidearm reliever Daniel Bennett (5-1), who entered the game after a home run in the eighth, pitched two scoreless innings.

"It was just a heck of a ballgame," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "If you like high-scoring games I guess you liked that one."

Game 2 of the Super Regional is Saturday at 1 p.m. (ESPN). Left-hander Brian Busch (5-1, 4.24 ERA) will take the mound for FSU against Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray (9-5, 3.51 ERA).

If necessary, a third game will be played on Sunday for a spot in the College World Series.

FSU had made a habit of losing the first game of a Super Regional, dropping seven straight games. The Seminoles recovered to advance to the CWS just once, at home against Wichita State in 2008.

But now it's Vanderbilt that needs to recover. The Commodores rallied to defeat Louisville twice in the regional and now need to do the same thing in Tallahassee as they attempt to reach the CWS for the first time.

"That's the way it goes," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. "Not much you can do about it. We played hard and that's why I love my kids. They come back."

On Friday, FSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and then seemingly broke the game open in the second as Tyler Holt hit a two-run double off the right-field screen and Sherman Johnson followed with a two-run homer to right field.

But Vanderbilt whittled away at FSU's lead. The big hits: Curt Casali had a solo home run and an RBI double, Jason Esposito had a two-out, two-run double and Joe Loftus had a solo home run.

Anthony Gomez then tied the game at six in the sixth when a shallow fly ball landed in right field.

Esposito led off the seventh with a solo home run for Vanderbilt. FSU countered with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

In the eighth, Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, hit a solo home run.

But FSU answered again with Boyd's eighth-inning blast, his third hit on the day, and then finally McGee's home run.

"If you expect a walk-off win, wait for Mike McGee to come up," teammate Tyler Holt said. "He's done it plenty of times this year."