UCLA’s Yates hits ninth-inning HR to eliminate FSU

AUBURN, Ala. — Jonah Scolaro did everything he could to help Florida State fight off elimination. Including a career-long outing on a warm day.

But UCLA had the big moment late as Carson Yates hit a no-doubt, ninth inning solo home run over the 37-foot wall in left field as UCLA took a 2-1 win to eliminate FSU on Sunday afternoon in the Auburn Regional.

The Seminoles (34-25) saw their season come to an end in the regional round for a second straight year after they lost at the Oxford (Miss.) Regional in 2021.

“Lot of emotion, Jonah gave him everything he had, just like he always does,” FSU coach Mike Martin Jr. said. “It’s a tight-knit group. Battled. Didn’t get it done. It’s never easy to end your season. Love each and every member one of the members of the club. They genuinely care about each other. The ones that are graduating and are going to sign, we’re going to miss them.”

FSU managed just seven hits, six singles and Jaime Ferrer’s solo home run, on an afternoon in which their season was on the line. The Seminoles were far cleaner than Saturday night’s 21-7 meltdown against host Auburn, but there were still the familiar base-running blunders and an error, although three pitchers combined to walk just three batters.

The Seminoles made a late rally as James Tibbs led off the ninth with a single. Pinch runner Isaiah Perry swiped second on a deep sac fly to center by Brett Roberts. But Reese Albert struck out and Treyton Rank took strike three to end the game.

For the fifth time this season, Scolaro went three-plus innings in an “opener” or long relief opportunity. In those 15.1 innings entering Sunday, Scolaro had allowed just one earned run. On Sunday, Scolaro allowed just five hits and two walks while throwing 91 pitches (63 strikes).

In his 27th appearance of 2022 and 119th of his career, Scolaro set the table with arguably his best performance. Scolaro tossed a career-best six innings and set a career-high with nine strikeouts and left in the seventh with the game knotted 1-1.

“Coming into today, I told Meat and the coaches, ‘My pitch count is 300. I’m going until I can’t anymore,’ ” Scolaro said.

Wyatt Crowell then threw 1.1 shutout innings. Closer Davis Hare inherited a two-on, two-out situation in the eighth but got a fly out to end the inning. But in the ninth, Yates led off and crushed a hanging slider from Hare over the fence.

Ferrer had a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to break open a scoreless game. But Kyle Karros, the son of longtime LA Dodgers star Eric Karros, responded in the top of the seventh with a solo shot to tie it up at 1-1.

FSU’s season ended early yet again, far short of the standard of getting to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

“It ultimately falls on me,” Martin Jr. said. “… It is the standard. It always will be the standard at Florida State. Our job is to recruit our tails off, evaluate the way we do things, make changes if necessary. There’s going to be a lot of things we look at.”