Florida, South Carolina to face off in College World Series finals

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South Carolina knocked off No. 1 seed Virginia in a 13-inning game Friday to advance to the finals of the College World Series.  The Gamecocks will play Floida in a best-of-three final beginning Monday.

Virginia sent ace Danny Hultzen to the mound in an attempt to stave off elimination last night, but Hultzen, who was selected second overall by the Mariners in this month’s draft, was ill and had to come out after three scoreless innings and eight strikeouts.

With Hultzen gone, the Gamecocks took a 2-1 lead in the fourth, and starter Michael Roth was able to protect that margin until coming out after seven.  The Cavs tied it in the eighth, and at that point, the closers took over.  Brendan Kline pitched five scoreless innings for Virginia, working through the 12th.  Matt Price, a Diamondbacks’ draft pick, threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings for South Carolina, earning the win in the process.

Along the way, Price pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the ninth, 10th, 12th and 13th innings.  He pitched his 5 2/3 scoreless innings despite allowing seven hits and walking five (two intentional).  He threw more pitches (95) than Roth did in his seven innings (91).

So, now it’s the Gators and the Gamecocks for the title.  A few players to watch:

South Carolina

Jackie Bradley Jr.: The Gamecocks’ center fielder and cleanup hitter was a supplemental first-round pick of the Red Sox.  He actually had something of a disappointing season, but he came through with big hits in both of USC’s wins over Virginia.

Price: Arizona’s fifth-rounder was the Gamecocks’ second highest drafted player.  How he bounces back from throwing 95 pitches will be very interesting to see, particularly if he’s needed Monday.

Scott Wingo: The team’s second baseman got on base at a .473 clip during regular-season play.  He was a 10th-round pick of the Dodgers this month.

Florida

Karsten Whitson: Whitson was drafted ninth overall by the Padres last year, only to snub the team and go to Florida.  After having gone 8-0 with a 2.43 ERA as a freshman, he’ll start the second game against the Gamecocks.

Preston Tucker: The Rockies’ 16th-round pick.  Tucker has driven in 19 runs during the NCAA tournament, seven more than anyone else.  He had the go-ahead hit Friday as the Gators beat Vandy 6-4 to advance.

Nick Maronde: A left-handed reliever, Maronde was the Gators’ highest drafted player this year, going to the Angels in round three.  He has a 1.93 ERA and a 54/9 K/BB ratio in 42 innings out of the pen.

Anthony DeSclafani crushed a grand slam for his first career home run

Anthony DeSclafani
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Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani put on a show during Saturday’s matinee against the Cubs. Up 2-1 in the third inning, the hurler hooked a Brian Duensing fastball over the left field fence for his first career home run — and first career grand slam:

Grand slams are impressive no matter the player or situation, but they’re made all the more special in rare circumstances like this one. Not only is DeSclafani the first pitcher to deliver a grand slam in 2018, but he’s the first Reds hurler to do so in nearly 60 years. Per MLB.com’s Brian Scott Rippee, right-hander Bob Purkey was the last to hit a slam for the Reds in 1959, when he took Cubs reliever John Buzhardt deep in the third inning of a 12-3 drubbing.

The 28-year-old righty had a decent outing on the mound as well, holding the Cubs to two runs, four walks, and three strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings before passing the ball to reliever Michael Lorenzen. Entering Saturday, he carried a 2-1 record in three games, with a 4.60 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9 across 15 2/3 innings — not too shabby for someone who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016.

The Reds currently lead 8-2 in the bottom of the seventh.