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James Tibbs III sends FSU to College World Series for 24th time

TALLAHASSEE — James Tibbs III had all the answers Saturday, except one for Florida State.

He’d just hit his third home run of the game, a two-run shot in the top of the 12th inning, to carry the No. 8 seed Seminoles back to the College World Series for the 24h time in defeating UConn, 10-8, and sweeping the Tallahassee Regional.

“I sat on the bench and I told the coaches and everybody around us, ‘It’s getting to the top [of the lineup]. It’s done.’ I went up to [first baseman Daniel] Cantu and I was like, ‘I’m going to end it right here.’

“That was pure luck. I was just confident. I was just hoping I got a pitch to hit and luckily I did.”

Asked second-year FSU coach Link Jarrett, sitting to Tibbs’ right: “Was that a change-up?”

Said Tibbs: “I have no idea.”

He wasn’t kidding. The moment was a blur — and an about-face from a 24-4 drubbing of the Huskies in Game 1 Friday — in a game that featured eight home runs, six by the Seminoles.

After Max Williams led off the 12th with a single and Cam Smith flied out, Tibbs drove a 1-0 pitch deep over the fence in right field for the go-ahead runs. In the bottom of the inning, Conner Whittaker allowed a two-out single but struck out Paul Tammaro to end it.

Tibbs’ dramatic home run was his third two-run shot of the game. It was his 31st home run of the season and his 100 RBI are tied for first in the nation. He went 5-for-6 with six RBI on Saturday. Williams had three hits and scored twice.

In the top of the ninth, Florida State (47-15) loaded the bases on a walk, a single and an error, then Drew Faurot lifted a fly to left field and Jordan Williams scored from third. The next two batters flied out to end the inning.

UConn’s Matt Malcolm tied it with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth.

The difference, according to Jarrett, was being the host. The heat because of the early starts and the relentlessness of the Huskies (35-26) made it double tough.

“An awesome day for these guys, for the program. These game times were tough. I was looking at the people down in the left field and right field bleachers. I knew how hot I was and I could get in the shade,” he said. “I see those people fighting for our team, relentlessly, hour and hour and hour and hour on end. They add such a touch to this.

“It’s an advantage. When you’re in the situations and get to do this at home, that’s a huge part of it.”

Now they’ll have to repeat these efforts in Omaha, Neb.,

FSU, which hasn’t advance to the CWS since 2019, has never won a national championship in baseball.

The ‘Noles will face the winner of the Evansville (39-24) and No. 1 Tennessee (53-12).

The Vols were stunned 10-8 in the Knoxville Super Regional on Saturday to even their best-of-3 series, forcing an elimination game Sunday.

Up next

FSU vs. Evansville or Tennessee

When: Friday in Omaha, Neb., TBD

TV: ESPN

 

 

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