June 12 (UPI) — The Florida Gators beat the Auburn Tigers with a bizarre walk-off home run to advance to the College World Series.
Florida and Auburn were tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning Monday at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium in Game 3 of the Gainesville Super Regional. They claimed a 3-2 victory with the help of several odd plays.
The first surprise of the game came when the Gators perfectly executed a trick play in order to steal home. Nick Horvath stood on first base and pretended that he was going to steal second. He fell down on purpose, distracting Auburn pitcher Andrew Mitchell.
The brief lapse enabled Blake Reese to sprint home from third base, giving the Gators a 2-1 lead.
Auburn tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly.
But the Gators weren’t done scoring. The game went into extra innings and Auburn’s Cody Greenhill took the mound in the bottom of the 11th. Austin Langworthy stepped into the box as the first batter of the inning for the Gators. Greenhill went up 0-2 in the count before throwing a ball. Langworthy hit his next pitch deep to right field.
Outfielder Steven Williams ran back toward the warning track to collect an out. He jumped up and touched the ball with his glove. But instead of wrapping it up, Williams knocked the ball over the fence for a walk-off home run.
“I think 99 out of 100 he catches that,” Auburn reliever Davis Daniel said, according to FloridaGators.com. “One play doesn’t define him. He’s got a very bright future. The guy’s been one of our leaders as a freshman all year. I think everybody on this team knows it. He laid it all on the line for that ball. Sometimes it just doesn’t bounce your way.”
Florida advanced to the College World Series due to the miscue and is looking to win back-to-back championships. The Gators face Texas Tech on Sunday in Omaha.