Steven Rodriguez made quick work Tuesday morning in finishing the win that put Florida in control of Bracket One at the College World Series.
The sophomore left-hander, who threw 11 pitches in getting three outs before rain suspended Monday night's game against Vanderbilt, came back Tuesday and set down 10 of the 11 batters he faced in completing the Gators' 3-1 victory at TD Ameritrade Park.
Rodriguez, a Miami native, was disappointed when high winds and rain forced officials to suspend play Monday night.
“When the sirens went off, I was kind of upset because I was dealing,'' Rodriguez said. “I was like, ‘God, I don't need this to happen right now.' ”
Rodriguez said he tried to stay loose in the locker room, hoping to get back out on the mound Monday night. When officials finally decided after more than two hours of waiting to suspend play until Tuesday, Rodriguez left the stadium, got something to eat and hit his bed.
He came back Tuesday and started dealing again. He needed 39 pitches and 44 minutes to finish the win that advances Florida to Friday's Bracket One championship game. Rodriguez struck out seven batters and allowed only one ball to be hit out of the infield in his 41⁄3 innings of hitless work.
“I've been in the league, and he's one of the better pitchers I've seen out of the bullpen,'' said Vanderbilt's Aaron Westlake, who had faced Rodriguez before in a Southeastern Conference series. “Like Coach said, he and Karsten didn't give us many pitches to hit yesterday and today. Give them credit.''
Rodriguez relieved Karsten Whitson with two outs in the fifth on Monday after the Florida starter had given up a run-scoring single that cut into the 3-0 lead the Gators had taken on Preston Tucker's fourth-inning homer.
Rodriguez struck out Westlake to end the inning. Rodriguez felt a bit uneasy when he took the mound to start the sixth as dark storm clouds moved in.
“I'm from Miami,'' he said. “Hurricanes are the only thing we ever see. When they told me it was tornadoes, I was going to be the first one in the locker room. I had never been through anything like that, and I knew it must have been bad if they were getting everyone off the field.''
Rodriguez was ready, in more ways than one. His previous appearance came in the second game of the super regional and ended with Mississippi State's Nick Vickerson launching a two-run walk-off homer for a 4-3 win that extended the series to three games.
“When something like that happens, you ask yourself what did you do wrong and what could I have done differently,'' Rodriguez said. “You just have to tell yourself it happened and be ready when you get the opportunity to pitch again.''