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Four teams feature local players at World Series

Later this week the College World Series begins, on Saturday, June 19. And while area teams such as UCF and Stetson will not be taking part, it doesn’t mean Central Florida players have been left out.

The Florida Gators, seeded No. 3 in the tournament, advanced to the field of eight for the sixth time in program history and first time since 2005. They defeated the Miami Hurricanes 4-3 in 10 Innings on Saturday night in front of a large crowd of 5,783 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville.

The Hurricanes committed seven errors in the game, including one in the top of the 10th by right fielder Chris Pelaez, who misplayed a fly ball hit by freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana, out of West Orange High School. Fontana would end up scoring the game-winning run on a RBI double by Austin Maddox.

Lake Brantley High School alum Greg Larson entered the game in the bottom of the 10th with one on base and one out. The sophomore proceeded to catch freshman Michael Broad looking on strikes and then force sophomore Rony Rodriguez to ground out to Fontana at shortstop, who fired a bullet across the diamond to Preston Tucker at first base for the final out. Larson collected his third save and was greeted by teammates as the celebration began.

The Hurricanes made nine errors in their two games of Super Regional play, which as a result denied local kids such as freshman Steve Ewing out of University High School and Ethan Bornstein from Winter Park High School a chance to make it to Omaha. The Gators opened Super Regionals with a 7-2 win on Friday night.

Fontana and Larson join sophomore Ben McMahan and senior Clint Franklin as players from the Central Florida area with spots on the Florida roster. McMahon played his high school ball at Bishop Moore while Franklin played at Timber Creek.

Joining the Gators at the World Series are the Florida State Seminoles, who are making the trip for the 20th time in program history and 14th time under head coach Mike Martin. The Seminoles defeated Vanderbilt 7-6 in the decisive Game 3 of the team’s Super Regional matchup at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee.

FSU, like the Gators, have four players from the Orlando area on its roster including senior outfielder Ohmed Danesh out of Dr. Phillips High School. Junior infielder Stuart Tapley and freshman Corben Madden both played baseball at Boone High School. Junior pitcher John Gast hails from Lake Brantley, where he was a teammate with Florida’s Larson from 2005-07.

For Gast, Tapley, and Danesh, this marks their second trip to Omaha in three years as FSU advanced in 2008, going 0-2 after losing to Stanford and Miami. The Seminoles open play this time around against TCU while Florida takes on No. 6 UCLA. The two state rivals could meet up early on as both are in the same bracket.

– More Local Players In College World Series –

Senior second baseman Mike Freeman out of Edgewater High School and sophomore shortstop Brad Miller from Olympia High School helped Clemson advance to the World Series. The Tigers take on No. 1 Arizona State to start the week’s final round of elimination play. Junior utility player Robert Beary out of Apopka started in 22 games for South Carolina, playing in 41 games on the year. The Gamecocks get underway against Oklahoma.

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