OFFENSE: Miami has a strong argument as the best offense in Omaha. The lowest batting average in Miami’s lineup is center fielder Ricky Eusebio at .297, but his on-base percentage of .463 is the best on the team after working 51 walks, the second most on the roster.
Miami is tied for 11th in the country with 62 home runs. The power comes from two main sources -- catcher Zack Collins (15) and third baseman David Thompson (19). Thompson has turned into one of the best hitters in the country, batting .333 with 87 RBI and a team-high 18 doubles. Catcher/designated hitter Garrett Kennedy has seven homers and right fielder Willie Abreu has six. No other regular has more than three.
Second baseman George Iskenderian leads the team with a .367 batting average, but his power numbers are limited this year.
The Hurricanes have two more home runs as a team than Florida. Eight of the nine regulars in the Florida lineup are hitting .286 or higher. Freshman catcher Mike Rivera’s .261 average is the only one lower.
The Gators do have the hottest hitter in the country -- designated hitter J.J. Schwarz. The freshman is hitting .564 with five doubles and four homers with 17 RBI in the postseason. In the NCAA Tournament alone, he’s hitting .600 (12-20) with four homers and nine runs scored with 11 RBI.
The ultimate equalizer in Omaha is that teams that depend on the home run ball tend to score less runs because of TD Ameritrade Park’s size and constant wind blowing in. The Gators did win the SEC Tournament at the Hoover Met, another big ballpark that doesn’t allow many home runs. Florida hit just one home run that week and still won it.
PITCHING: The Florida-Miami matchup looks like it could be the best first-round matchup on paper, and the pitching matchup is a big reason why. The Gators will send right-hander Logan Shore (9-6, 2.50 ERA) to the mound against Miami left-hander Andrew Suarez (9-1, 2.96 ERA).
This matchup was supposed to happen in Gainesville on February 20 in the first game of the regular season series. However, Suarez injured his oblique while warming up for the game and Shore lasted 10 pitches before a hip injury forced him out of the game. The matchup will now happen on Saturday night in the College World Series. Shore is riding a 15-inning scoreless streak, and Suarez has been pitching well in recent outings.
Both teams have strong bullpens. Florida can play matchups late with right-hander Taylor Lewis (6-1, 1.24 ERA, seven saves) able to be stretched out and go deep into games. Left-handers Bobby Poyner (5-2, 2.73 ERA, four saves) and Kirby Snead (1-0, 3.19 ERA) can both come into late innings to get lefties or righties out.
DEFENSE: The Gators will have the advantage on defense over any team in the country. Florida is fielding .985, currently tied for the best fielding percentage in college baseball history. The Gators are led by shortstop Richie Martin, who was a first-round pick mostly because of his defense. He has elite range and a big arm. Third baseman Josh Tobias has made one error all season and second base Dalton Guthrie is fielding .982.
The outfield defense is especially important in spacious TD Ameritrade Park. Center fielder Buddy Reed is one of the best defensive outfielders in the country, and Harrison Bader would play center field on most teams in the country.
Miami is fielding .972 as a team and has outfield defense that rivals Florida, led by Eusebio’s range in center field. On the infield, Florida’s defense has the clear advantage. Miami’s third baseman, shortstop and second basemen have combined for more errors than the entire Florida roster. Second baseman George Iskenderian is stiff at second base and has 18 errors on the year, leading the team.