By MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Auburn got a number of clutch performances from freshmen with its season on the line at Florida.
And one huge hit from a fifth-year senior.
Luke Jarvis’ RBI single in the bottom of the ninth gave Auburn a 3-2 victory over the top-seeded Gators in their best-of-three super regional Sunday. It set up a decisive game Monday night, with the winner advancing to the College World Series.
Florida (46-19), the defending national champion, hasn’t lost consecutive games at home since April 2017.
“I’m happy to have one more day to fight,” Tigers coach Butch Thompson said.
Tanner Burns and Cody Greenhill, two freshman All-American pitchers, held the Gators in check throughout the day. Burns gave up five hits and an earned run in six innings, and Greenhill (6-2) surrendered a solo home run over the final three frames.
Another freshman, Steven Williams, tied the game in the fourth with his 12th homer and tracked down a ball in the gap that surely would have been a double in the third.
“I think this is a bag of experience that these guys can take with them,” Thompson said.
All of those guys will return next year, giving Auburn (43-22) plenty of hope for the future. Jarvis, though, was down to his final few outs.
He was hitless in seven at-bats in the series before coming through and giving the Tigers at least another day.
Brendan Venter got things started in the ninth with a lead-off walk off reliever Jordan Butler (6-2). He moved to second on Jay Estes’ single and then gave way to pinch-runner Cade Evans. Jarvis drove the first pitch into left center, easily scoring Evans.
“Pandemonium,” Jarvis said. “That’s as cool as it gets like from a feelings perspective playing this game. You’re not hitting the ball well and sure enough you come up in kind of a big situation and all you’ve got to do is put the ball in play. It sounds a lot tougher when you’re in there.”
The Tigers looked like they wouldn’t even need their final at-bat, but Florida’s Austin Langworthy homered to start the ninth off Greenhill.
The game was a pitching duel for most of the afternoon, with Jackson Kowar and Burns doing what many expected in the opener between fellow first-round MLB draft picks Brady Singer and Casey Mize.
Kowar, a first-round draft pick by Kansas City, gave up three hits and an earned run in seven innings. It was his best outing in a month.
Now, the Gators will turn to a freshman, either Jack Leftwich (4-5) or Tommy Mace (5-0), to start the series finale. O’Sullivan said it likely would be Leftwich.
The Tigers will counter with senior left-hander Andrew Mitchell (2-2).
“Obviously, everybody’s disappointed,” said Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan, whose team won decisive games in the 2017 regional and super regional as well as last weekend’s regional. “We’ve been here before. Hopefully we’ll feed off that experience.”