Gators stay alive with win over Virginia

Florida was in a familiar situation during the third inning on Friday.

The Gators had runners on first and third with one out and Harrison Bader at the plate. Florida faced the same situation in the eighth inning with no outs in Monday’s game against Virginia, but the Gators couldn’t get on the board. Friday was different.

Florida got on the board with an RBI ground out by Bader and scored three runs with two outs, sparking the Gators to a 10-5 win over Virginia on Friday at the College World Series.

“We played good defense, had some really good at-bats and Logan (Shore) gave us a really good start again,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We had first and third and Bader gets to two strikes. It was almost reminiscent of the other night. He didn’t hit it hard, but it got us on the board for the first run and got us going. If he strikes out there, who knows what happens.”

The two teams will face off again on Saturday with the winner going to the championship series. The time has yet to be determined. If Vanderbilt beats TCU Friday night and advances to the championship series, the Gators and Cavaliers will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday. If Vanderbilt and TCU need a second game on Saturday, the Gators and Cavaliers will play at 3 p.m.

O’Sullivan said either Dane Dunning or A.J. Puk will get the start on Saturday.

Bader’s ground out opened the floodgates, counting as the first run Florida scored against Virginia in 11.1 innings this College World Series. Richie Martin followed with an RBI double and Josh Tobias lined an RBI single to left to make it 3-1. After J.J. Schwarz singled and moved Tobias to third, the senior third baseman scored on a passed ball to give the Gators a 4-1 lead after three innings.

Florida erased any doubt with a five-run sixth inning.

The Gators loaded the base with no outs before Virginia recorded an out at the plate on a ground ball from Buddy Reed. Mike Rivera followed with an RBI single to center to score one, and Dalton Guthrie worked a walk to bring in another run. An RBI ground out by Ryan Larson brought one run home, and back-to-back singles by Bader and Martin drove in two more, pushing the Florida lead to 9-1 after six innings.

“We have a tendency to have big innings,” O’Sullivan said. “To have big innings, you have to have a consistent lineup 1-9. It’s not necessarily the first five guys in your lineup but the guys who hit six, seven, eight and nine. The contributions from up and down the lineup help us build some big innings.”

The Florida offense scored 10+ runs in a game for the third time this College World Series. From 2011-14 in the College World Series, only three teams scored 10+ runs in a game.

On the mound, Florida ace Logan Shore gave the Gators exactly what they needed, even if the stats didn’t end up looking as good. In 6.1 innings, the right-hander gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four. However, through six full innings, Shore had allowed just one run. He was pulled with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, and reliever Bobby Poyner allowed all three runs to score.

In the NCAA Tournament, Florida starting pitching is now 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA, giving up 39 hits and striking out 49 batters in 49.1 innings pitched.

Poyner threw the final 2.2 innings of action to finish the game.

“We’ve responded all year long when our backs are against the wall,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re excited for the opportunity to play Virginia again tomorrow.”

If the Gators win on Saturday, they’ll reach the national championship series for the second time in five years and third time in 11 years.

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