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CWS ROUNDUP: TCU beats FSU, 8-1; UCLA beats Gators, 11-3

Photo by Mike Phillips

Photo by Mike Phillips

OMAHA, Neb.-- College World Series newcomer TCU isn't acting like it plans to go home any time soon.

Undefeated freshman Matt Purke overcame early trouble to limit Florida State to four singles and one unearned run over seven innings Saturday, and the Horned Frogs scored five times in the first inning on their way to an 8-1 victory in the CWS opener.

Coming off a hard-earned super-regional win at Texas last week, the Frogs gave Purke a big cushion and continued the Seminoles' frustration in Omaha.

"This is the point of the season when there are only going to be great teams left playing," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "What we went through last week, there was no tougher situation. Ninety percent of baseball is confidence, and our guys feel good about themselves. That doesn't mean we're going to win every time, but we're going to be ready to play."

The Frogs (52-12) advanced to a Monday night game against the winner of Saturday night's Florida-UCLA game. The Seminoles (47-19), at the CWS for the 20th time, have lost five of their last six CWS openers and will play the Florida-UCLA loser in a Monday afternoon Bracket 1 elimination game.

"I wish there was something I could say that would make any sense," Florida State coach Mike Martin said. "Certainly we're disappointed, but this TCU club is very good. They whipped us today, and I got a few of those on my resume, and so it's nothing new."

TCU is the first team to win its CWS debut since Georgia Tech in 1994 -- a team that featured future Boston Red Sox stars Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek.

"They're everything I saw when I saw them play Texas on television," Martin said of TCU.

Florida State broke out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Frogs responded with five runs in the bottom half. Jason Coats' double into the left-field corner put TCU up 2-1 before Seminoles' starter Sean Gilmartin recorded an out.

The Frogs led 7-1 after Jantzen Witte scored on Brance Rivera's suicide-squeeze bunt in the third and Bryan Holaday hit his 14th homer in the fourth.

The Seminoles tested Purke right away. Tyler Holt lined the left-hander's first pitch of the game into left field, and he scored when TCU third baseman Jantzen Witte picked up Sherman Johnson's short bouncer and threw into the right-field bullpen.

But Purke settled down, striking out Mike McGee, James Ramsey and Stephen Cardullo in order to strand Johnson at third. The Seminoles ended up 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position.

"I thought the first inning was a difference-maker," Schlossnagle said. "You saw what we've seen all year. The more pressure the situation, the more that he's cornered, the better he is. A freshman in Omaha didn't panic and just made pitches."

Purke (15-0), who turned down a $4 million offer last year as the Texas Rangers' top draft pick, mixed his new changeup with a fastball in the mid 90s and a devastating curveball. After Holt's first-inning hit, Purke didn't allow another ball out of the infield until the seventh. He did walk four to match a season high.

Eric Marshall pitched two innings of scoreless relief, with Holt grounding out to third to end the game and set off the Frogs' celebration in the field.

"It's huge, and just shows how good our guys are," Purke said. "We battled every inning and looked to put together good at-bats. It takes a lot of pressure off you. You go out and throw and just compete. This is what we've done all year long. We never feel like we're out of a game because of our offense, defense and pitching."

TCU, the first team to score at least five runs in its first-ever CWS game since Wichita State in 1982, gave Purke plenty of cushion.

Jerome Pena and Holaday led off the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles against Gilmartin (9-8) before Coats hit the go-ahead double. Joe Weik and Aaron Schultz added RBI singles and Taylor Featherston a sacrifice fly.

Hunter Scantling relieved Gilmartin to start the fourth and gave up Holaday's long ball into the left-field bleachers.

Florida State has never won a CWS title in its 19 previous trips to Omaha. The Seminoles have advanced to the championship round three times, losing in 1970 to USC, in 1986 against Arizona and again in 1999 to ACC rival Miami.

"That's a ball game you can analyze from our side," Martin said. "We didn't make an error, so you might say we got our butts whipped, plain and simple."

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UCLA 11, FLORIDA 3

OMAHA, Neb. -- Despite having been UCLA's season-long No. 2 starter before Saturday night, Trevor Bauer looked every bit a No. 1 when given the ball for the Bruins' College World Series opener.

John Savage played a hunch by going with Bauer over Gerrit Cole, and the UCLA coach looked smart after the game.

The sophomore right-hander struck out 11 in strong seven innings and set the UCLA season record, and the Bruins cranked up their offense to beat Florida 11-3 for the program's first win in Omaha.

"It was a tough decision," Savage said. "Gerrit has started (first) all season long. That's one thing we've been very consistent with, and we kind of know our roles.

"We just kind of went with the matchup. It could have backfired, but we know we have a bunch of No. 1s. Trevor upheld his end of the deal, and now we're moving on."

The Bruins (49-14), who went two-and-out in each of their only two previous Omaha appearances, will play first-time CWS qualifier TCU in a Bracket 1 winners' game on Monday night.

Florida (47-16), the No. 3 national seed, meets Florida State in a Monday afternoon elimination game.

"We just could not get into the flow of the game," Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "It seemed like a really slow-paced game, agonizing at times to watch."

The No. 6 seed Bruins, who relied mostly on pitching and defense to set a school record for wins, scored in all but one inning and banged out 18 hits. Niko Gallego went 4 for 5 and Beau Amaral 3 for 4.

They also took advantage of Florida's pitching problems. Gators starter Andy Panteliodis and four others combined to hit four batters and throw four wild pitches, two of which resulted in UCLA runs. The Bruins also scored on a passed ball and an error.

Bauer (11-3) set the UCLA strikeout record in his last inning when he caught Jonathan Pigot looking at strike three. Bauer struck out Preston Tucker to end the seventh, giving him 11 for the game and 152 for the season. The sophomore from Valencia, Calif., has struck out 10 or more in seven of his 17 starts.

Bauer, who allowed six hits before Erik Goeddel relieved him in the eighth, said getting the ball in the CWS opener presented a mental challenge.

"It's definitely tougher leading off, with first-game jitters and obviously playing in such a great venue here," Bauer said. "For me, it was more of just another game, try to execute pitches and go one at a time and let the results be what they were."

As he has a number of times, Bauer struggled early with his command. He was tagged for two runs on two singles and a walk in the first inning, and the Gators had two runners on base in the second before Bauer struck out Matt den Dekker.

Bauer said he made a minor mechanical change after the second inning.

"It was a little tough, battling out there and going against such a good offense," Bauer said. "I settled in and started pitching off the fastball."

Savage was content to bide his time with Bauer.

"His stuff always shows up," he said. "If he can limit the damage early, he's as good as advertised, and I thought his stuff was very good. He's a strikeout pitcher."

The Bruins used a three-run third inning to take a 4-2 lead against Panteliodis. Gallego came home to tie it 2-all when Blair Dunlap's grounder went through third baseman Austin Maddox's legs, and Amaral scored the go-ahead run on Panteliodis' wild pitch.

Cody Regis' up-the-middle single made it a two-run game, and the Bruins went ahead 5-2 in the fourth after Steve Rodriguez scored on catcher Mike Zunino's passed ball.

Panteliodis (11-3) lasted just 3 1-3 innings. In his previous outing, Panteliodis had his first complete game and struck out 12 in a 7-2 super regional win over Miami.

Rodriguez hit a two-run single in the fifth off Florida reliever Jeff Barfield and Dean Espy scored on a wild pitch in the sixth to make it 8-3.

For all their struggles, the Gators turned in the defensive play of the day. That went to den Dekker, who chased Brett Krill's deep fly to center in the top of the fourth. Den Dekker was looking over his right shoulder, running directly at the wall, as the ball dropped over his head and into his right glove as he slid on his knees on the warning track.

"Fly ball, and I ran it down," den Dekker said.

O'Sullivan said den Dekker was being too humble.

"That was the best catch I've ever seen," the coach said.