Jacksonville Sports Day

Langworthy Sparks Florida to 6-1 Win; Gators Advance to Super Regional

Austin Langworthy safe at home. Photos by Tim Casey/UF

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The Gators needed a hero on Monday and freshman Austin Langworthy rose to the challenge.

Langworthy pitched four innings in relief and hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to propel Florida to a 6-1 win over Bethune-Cookman (36-25).

“Pound the strike zone. That was mindset. Simple as that,” Langworthy said.

Michael Byrne relieved Langworthy in the seventh inning and closed out the game, finishing the Regional with 10.0 scoreless innings pitched.

Over his past 17 appearances, Byrne has allowed just one earned run in 27.2 innings (0.33 ERA), notching 12 of his school-record 16 saves during that span.

With the win, Florida (45-17) advances to the Super Regionals for the seventh time in the past nine years. The Gators will host Wake Forest next weekend. Dates and times for the Super Regional will be released once all Regional action is completed.

“First of all, I’d like to compliment Bethune-Cookman, because they gave us everything we could handle these last two days. We won a very emotional game Saturday night against South Florida and Marist gave us everything we could handle as well. It was not an easy Regional for us, but we figured it out,” said Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

Both teams entered Monday’s game with question marks on the mound, having depleted the pitching staffs with seven combined games over three days entering Monday’s Regional final.

Freshman Kirby McMullen, making his first career start for Florida, pitched 2.2 scoreless innings with three hits allowed before being replaced in the third inning.

Langworthy, who started the game in left field, took the mound after McMullen allowed a pair of two-out singles in the third. Langworthy struck out the next batter to end the inning, then went three more innings without allowing a hit.

Langworthy provided the big blow at the plate in the sixth inning.

“It was a breaking ball that backed up, he threw me a couple earlier in the at bat so I figured that one was going to back up as well, so I just sat in and it happened to be there and I got good barrel to it,” he said.

With one out, Nelson Maldonado singled to start a chain of events that sparked the Gators.

Mike Rivera popped a ball up on the infield that was dropped by the first baseman, who then proceeded to throw the ball into centerfield trying to catch Maldonado advancing.

With runners on second and third, Langworthy stepped in and hit his third home run of the season – the first since March 3 against Columbia – to give Florida a 3-0 lead.

Langworthy then jogged back to the mound and worked a bottom half of the inning.

The Gators made it 4-0 in the seventh with back-to-back singles from Jonathan India and Dalton Guthrie. India led off with a single through the left side, then stole second and took third on a wild pitch. Guthrie brought him home with a single to center field.

Bethune-Cookman finally got a hit off Langworthy in the seventh inning, putting together a pair of hits with two outs to get on the board.

“Well, really a heck of a game. It’s funny how when both teams think they don’t have any pitching, the first five innings are shutouts, that’s the way it usually goes. It was a great game and they had some guys step up. I am just proud of our guys and the way they never quit,” said Bethune-Cookman head coach Jason Beverlin

Byrne entered the game and caught Demetrius Sims looking at the third strike to end the threat.

Langworthy continued to do damage at the plate, leading off the eighth with a double to left center. Byrne, who was in the lineup after the Gators eliminated the designated hitter spot earlier in the game, laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Langworthy to third base.

A sac fly from Nick Horvath gave Florida a 5-1 lead.

After Byrne worked a scoreless eighth, a RBI single from Nelson Maldonado tacked on one more insurance run. Byrne recorded his second save of the weekend to extend his school record with 16 saves on the season.

“It’s definitely exciting. We’ve wanted to go to the Supers all year, that’s the ultimate goal to go to Omaha and beyond and win it all,” Byrne added.

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