Florida Austin Langworthy (Florida photo)


Langworthy’s Walk-Off Sends Florida To CWS

At The Ballpark

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Auburn freshman right fielder Steven Williams bent over slightly and put his hands on his knees.

He walked around a bit, surely in a daze, and then crouched down into a squat.

This was after Austin Langworthy’s line drive had bounced off Williams’ glove, landing over the fence for a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning.

This was after Langworthy and the Florida Gators had jumped around in celebration of their 3-2 victory in front of 5,958 fans, the eighth-largest crowd in UF history.

And this was after the Gators had clinched their fourth straight trip to the College World Series.

But, as it turned out, the Gators – the guys with rings on their fingers from last year’s CWS – were not the only champions at McKethan Stadium on Monday night.

The Tigers had one fewer run than the top-ranked team in the nation but no less class, and here’s why:

A couple of minutes after that game-deciding play, Auburn players started to gather in right field, hugging Williams, patting him on the back and reassuring him with their words and their actions.

“One play won’t define him,” said Auburn senior lefthander Andrew Mitchell, who earned a no-decision on Monday, allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings. “He’s going to be OK. He’s a really good ballplayer. He has a bright future ahead of him.”

Auburn reliever Davis Daniel, who was brilliant on his 21st birthday, pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing just one hit, said it was important to “pick up” Williams.

“I think 99 out of 100 (times), he catches that,” Daniel said of Williams, who was an all-state running back and linebacker in Georgia and also played a lot of catcher in baseball.

“The guy has been one of our leaders as a freshman. I think everyone on this team knows that, and he laid it all on the line for that ball.

“Sometimes it just doesn’t bounce your way.”

Tenacious Gators

Lately, a lot has bounced in favor of the the Gators (47-19), who will arrive in Omaha as one of the clear favorites due to their 1-2 punch of first-round starting pitchers (Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar), perhaps the best closer in college baseball (Michael Byrne) and what may be the best left side of the infield (first-round pick Jonathan India at third base and Deacon Liput at shortstop).

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