Gators use historic inning to top UM at CWS

It was easy to see the nerves in Florida’s young players during the first three innings on Saturday at the College World Series. Once they settled in, things changed quickly.

The Florida hitters pounded out 14 hits and eight different players scored at least one run in an 11-run fourth inning before running away with a 15-3 win over Miami in the first round of the College World Series. The 11-run fourth inning was a TD Ameritrade Park record for runs in one inning and tied the College World Series record for runs in one inning, last done in 2008.

“Proud of the way we played,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I certainly did not see an 11-run inning in the fourth (coming), but I can’t say enough about our approach. We stayed in the middle of the field. In the first few innings, we were trying to do too much. The big inning certainly was the difference in the game.”

The Gators have now won 20 of their last 25 games against Miami. It was the Hurricanes’ largest ever loss in the NCAA Tournament.

The inning started by Florida taking advantage of mistakes by the Hurricanes. Then it turned into a beating.

With Miami leading 2-1 in the fourth, Josh Tobias walked to start the inning and J.J. Schwarz reached on an error by shortstop Brandon Lopez, whose errant throw was the second error of the play and moved both runners into scoring position. Buddy Reed’s single tied the game and Pete Alonso’s sacrifice fly gave the Gators a 3-2 lead, but the inning was only beginning. Three straight singles by Mike Rivera, Dalton Guthrie and Ryan Larson scored two runs, giving the Gators a 5-2 lead.

After Harrison Bader struck out and Richie Martin walked, Tobias lobbed a two-out, two-run single to left-center field to break it open with a 7-2 lead. Schwarz followed with a two-run single, and two batters later, Alonso doubled off the left field wall to score two runs. Rivera scored him on an RBI single, making the score 12-2 Florida after four innings.

The TD Ameritrade Park scoreboard couldn’t keep up, showing simply a “1” in the fourth inning column since it couldn’t fit the two numbers in one box.

“Our approach was a lot better,” Schwarz said. “Before that inning, Coach O’Sullivan told us to just relax and that we were playing a little uptight. We tried to loosen up a little bit, stay within our approach and use the middle of the field.”

Tobias added, “We didn’t try to have to big at-bat or hit the ball out. We just kept adding on each at-bat to string them together.”

The numbers are even more impressive considering the era of college baseball. The previous 11-run innings that the Gators tied with for most in College World Series history were done at the historically offensive Rosenblatt Stadium and before BBCOR bats, which have sapped power from the college game. The new baseball with lower seams has brought some power and runs back to college baseball this year, but the Gators accomplished their offensive output on Saturday without any home runs.

Florida starting pitcher Logan Shore wasn’t at his best on Saturday, but it didn’t matter with what the offense did. The sophomore gave up seven hits and two earned runs while striking out six hitters in five innings of work.

He pitched out of trouble, as Miami left six runners on base in the first four innings, and made big pitches with runners on base. The Florida bullpen did the rest.

The Gators advance to face Virginia on Monday at 8 p.m. ET in the winner’s bracket game. The winner on Monday will have to be beaten twice or it will advance to the championship series. Florida will send left-hander A.J. Puk (9-3, 3.96 ERA) against Virginia left-hander Brandon Waddell (3-5, 4.15).

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