GAINESVILLE, Fla.-Bethune-Cookman beat Florida 6-2 on Sunday night to force a decisive Game 7 in the 2017 NCAA Gainesville Regional.
Bethune-Cookman (36-24) won for the first time in school history against Florida (44-17), ending a 31-game drought that dates back to 1989.
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the second inning, notching a pair of runs off UF starter Brady Singer.
After getting a double play to erase a leadoff single, Singer hit right fielder Kyle Corbin with a pitch to start a two-out rally for the Wildcats. Nate Sterijevski then doubled down into the left field corner to score Corbin from first and take a 1-0 lead.
Bethune-Cookman took a two-run lead after Singer's throw to first on a grounder got past JJ Schwarz and Sterijevski scored from second.
Florida responded in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game. Four-straight batters reached base - knocking B-CU starter Dante Lindsay out of the game in the process -- and Deacon Liput's two-run single evened the score at 2-2.
Singer and Wildcats' reliever TJ Densmore settled in and kept the game deadlocked until the sixth inning.
Danny Rodriguez led off the inning with a double and looked like he may give the visitors the lead on Corbin's single to right field, but Nelson Maldonado's throw home was in time and Mike Rivera made the tag at the plate to save a run.
Bethune-Cookman kept the momentum though and took a 3-2 lead on Sterijevski's RBI single.
After taking the lead, B-CU head coach Jason Beverlin called on freshman Anthony Maldonado to make his first relief appearance of the season.
Anthony Maldonado entered the game with 15 starts on the season, including making the start on Friday night against USF in the Regional opener.
In the eighth inning, the Wildcats got some insurance and knocked Singer from the game. Sterijevski's fourth hit of the night was a two-run single that gave B-CU a 5-2 lead. Pinch hitter Michael Deeb followed with a double down the left field line to make it 6-2.
Anthony Maldonado was up to the task, limiting the Gators to just one baserunner in his four innings pitched.
FLORIDA POSTGAME QUOTES HEAD COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN Opening Statement: "Give Bethune all the credit in the world. They faced a really good pitcher tonight and did a really nice job with two strikes. We just didn't do enough offensively, that's the bottom line. We've got a chance tomorrow to win the game and advance. It boils down to one game. Bethune deserves all the credit. They played much better tonight."
On the offensive performance: "We were late to fastballs. We got beat by fastballs the entire night."
On Brady Singer's performance: "He was fine. I thought he threw the ball good. He gave us a chance to win."
Sophomore RHP Brady Singer On the mindset heading into Monday's game: "We've got to come out and play better tomorrow. I hope our starter does the job and we've got to hit to win."
On his performance: "I felt alright. I thought I pitched ok, definitely could have pitched better. Maybe my mindset wasn't as good as it should have been, but we've just got to come out tomorrow and play better."
Sophomore 2B Deacon Liput On the mindset heading into Monday's game: "Offensive we've just got to do a better job. I thought Brady did exactly what he needed to do to win. We just didn't support him enough offensively."
BETHUNE-COOKMAN POSTGAME QUOTES Head Coach Jason Beverlin Opening Statement: "Obviously, for us, the first win was big and this one is even bigger for our program. To beat somebody the caliber of Florida in a championship game to fore to the "if necessary" game is huge. Now its winner take all, anything can happen."
On the awareness that BCU was 31-0 to Florida: "I knew we never beat them when I was here [as a player], put it that way. I knew our record, if we had beaten them, we haven't beaten them much. They're a great team every year so to beat anybody of their caliber, any of the big three in our state is a big deal for us. That is one thing, the guys on our team are finally getting to the point where it doesn't matter what the name on the front of the jersey says. It's baseball, anything can happen any given day. They're all 18-22 years old, they all put their pant leg on one leg at a time, anything can happen."
On staying locked in for second game: "I think, like I said we're pretty comfortable playing two games in one day because we do that a lot in our conference. After the first game we just tried to get off our feet for a little bit. We had the luxury of going and taking a shower, getting fresh clothes on, not having to stay in the same clothes all day like normal but they did do a great job of getting back up even though there was some down time in between and staying locked in for what ended up being a long day."
On who will pitch tomorrow: "I haven't really thought about it yet. I'll have to take a look at it. The last thing you want to do is put anybody in harm's way, just like the guys that threw the first game. We weren't going to have them come back this second game. We are going to be smart about it but see who can bounce back the best and put us in a position to win. Probably have to mix and match a little bit and do some creative things with the bullpen but we will figure out the best we can. Whether we win 15-14 or 2-1, whatever it takes. I think the guys will be ready with all hands on deck."
Senior 1B Austin Garcia On confidence for tomorrow's game: "it is surreal, no doubt about it. It is something that ever since my freshman year, we had a second win in school history against Columbia, I just felt like after that we had unfinished business. As far as putting Bethune on the map, I feel comfortable and confident that everybody is going to come out. It's going to be a good game, it is going to be a dog fight but it is going to be a good game."
Sophomore 2B Nate Sterijevski On mindset during the game: "Earlier today we played USF and me and the coaches were working on seeing the ball deep and hitting it to my field and today we knew Brady Singer was going to come insider, his ball tails in a lot. I was trying to get something over the middle of the plate that would come back in and try to drive it to left field. Having that approach helped me going into the last inning getting that hit because the guy was coming in too."