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Florida completes regional comeback, upsets Oklahoma State to advance

A month ago, Florida hardly looked like an NCAA Tournament team, but a switch flipped during the Georgia series and the Gators are now headed to the super regionals after taking down regional host Oklahoma State, 4-2, on Monday night.

Florida had already played four games over the weekend, so pitching depth was thin coming into the game. Redshirt freshman Jake Clemente and true freshmen left-hander Frank Menendez kept the Cowboys quiet enough through 5 2/3 innings, setting the table for junior Fisher Jameson to slam the door shut.

Menendez earned his first win of the season, and Clemente was solid in his second start of the year. The Cowboys made solid contact off him a few times but it took until the fourth inning to score off him.

Clemente didn’t have his best stuff, walking three batters to just two strikeouts, but he left the game with a lead in the fourth. Aidan Meola doubled in a run, bringing out Kevin O'Sullivan to make the switch.

Florida’s early lead came from the two most unlikely heroes in the lineup. Ashton Wilson continued his regional run for the ages with a liner to right-center that scored both Jac Caglianone and Michael Robertson in the third. Robertson added another run in the fourth with a poke to left field, beating the shift.

Frank Menendez was first out of the bullpen, making his first appearance for the Gators since May 16. He went a career-high 2 1/3 innings, but it wasn’t without drama.

Menendez came into the game with two men on but got a pair of fly balls with his changeup, which even had O’Sullivan doling out some praise during the in-game interview. It’s the same pitch he used to strike out Meola in the fifth, capping off an escape from a bases-loaded jam with no outs.

Sully also said he needed to use Menendez as long as he could, bringing him back out for the sixth. A two-out walk ended his day, but he delivered the bullpen performance Florida needed in the biggest game of the year. A run on a sacrifice fly is a small price to pay considering the circumstances.

Tyler Shelnut added an insurance run with a monster home run to left center in the bottom of the sixth, his 14th of the season.

Fisher Jameson came in after Menendez and did his best Branon Neely impression. He made sure Sully couldn’t take the ball from him by retiring all 10 batters he faced without a blemish. Perfection when it was needed most.

Jameson struck out four, including the final batter of the day, igniting a celebration back in Gainesville and sending the Oklahoma State fans home with disappointment across their faces.

It wasn’t easy to come out on top in Stillwater, but Florida got the pitching performances it needed to make it to the Supers. Clemson is next. Best of two out of three, starting on Friday or Saturday.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire