OMAHA, Neb. - Add another one to the highlight reel. Junior Evan Marzilli hasn’t made people forget about Jackie Bradley Jr., but he has made a name for himself.
Marzilli has quickly becoming known for his incredible defensive plays. His diving plays seem to have become old hat, so to speak, but he hasn’t made any better than in the top of the eighth inning of Saturday’s 7-3 win over top-seeded Florida.
The Gamecocks (46-17) were clinging to a two-run lead when head coach Ray Tanner called upon his closer, Matt Price, looking for a six-out save. Price has gotten the job done this year but hasn’t been quite as dominant as he was in 2011.
When Florida’s Daniel Pigott sent a laser off the bat to begin the eighth, it looked to be a leadoff double and a potential first chink in the armor for Price, who entered the game tied with former Georgia standout Josh Fields with 41 career saves, which leads the Southeastern Conference.
Against even great centerfielders, the ball would have fallen for a leadoff hit. Marzilli, however, had other ideas. The junior, who is the everyday centerfielder this season for the first time in his career, got a great jump on the ball.
“Off the bat I didn’t think I would get to it,” Marzilli said. “The ball was hit pretty well. I kept sprinting as hard as I could. On those, you don’t know if you’re going to get it until the last split second.”
Marzilli got up to top speed quickly as he ranged to his right. The ball kept carrying and he laid out parallel to the ground. Just before he hit the ground, the ball nestled into the webbing of his glove.
Just as if he was on a Slip-and-Slide, Marzilli skid along the outfield grass at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha as the crowd rose to its feet to applaud the outstanding catch.
“He just ran a great route, laid out, and stuck in his glove,” Tanner said. “That was one of the greatest catches I’ve seen.”
South Carolina outfielders Evan Marzilli, Adam Matthews, and Tanner English celebrate the 7-3 victory over Florida in the College World Series opener
The only downside? The sunglasses popped off the brim of his hat.
While the play was only good for one out, it flattened the Gators (47-19) in their comeback attempted. Price ended up working a 1-2-3 inning and after scoring two runs in the top of the ninth, the Gamecocks and Price coasted to a victory.
“That was a big-league play right there,” Price, who broke the tie with Fields and now holds the SEC record with 42 career saves, said.
The play ended up on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays but it was one of his many highlight reel catches during his three-year career at Carolina.
“It was one of my best ones, I think,” Marzilli said.
And who’s to argue.
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