Won, Not Done: Gators Defeat Virginia to set up de facto national semifinal

It took Florida 11 innings to finally find some offense against Virginia. Then they found it, and unleashed three and a hours of frustration against the Cavaliers with a four run onslaught in the third and a five run explosion in the sixth to highlight a 10-5 win in what was an elimination game for them.

But all this win does is force a rematch. Tomorrow’s the big one- Florida and Virginia will play at a yet to be determined time, with the winner advancing to the College World Series Championship Series.

Logan Shore pitched outstanding for Florida, allowing one run in the first inning before settling down and shutting UVA out until he ran into some more trouble in the seventh. Bobby Poyner came in and took it the rest of the way, giving up three runs he inherited from Shore plus one more in the 8th, but only gave up one hard hit ball, a two RBI double by UVA’s Kenny Towns. Then again, with the 9-1 deficit Virginia faced heading into the 7th, a three run inning followed by a one run inning did no good.

Meanwhile, Virginia made the odd decision to start Nathan Kirby, who hadn’t pitched in over two months. In truth, it may not have mattered who the Cavs started, because the Florida bats were much better today (obviously) than they were on Monday. Not only did they do better in the obvious departments- runs (10 compared to 0) and hits (11 compared to 2) but the hitters were patient today, working pitch counts until they saw mistakes- and then teed off on them.

Dalton Guthrie got the big third inning started with a single, and Ryan Larson added a single of his own right after that. Harrison Bader drove in the Gators’ first run of the game with a groundout, but that really started the merry-go-round as Richie Martin, Josh Tobias and JJ Schwarz strung three straight hits together to plate two more runs. A passed ball scored Tobias to cap the scoring that inning.

Virginia could have survived that little episode if not for an even bigger one in the sixth. Florida quickly loaded the bases, and sure enough, here came some more runs. Mike Rivera singled home the Gators’ fifth run, Dalton Guthrie walked, driving in the sixth, Ryan Larson’s groundout scored the seventh, and then Bader and Martin each singled one more home each.

That pretty much KO’ed the Cavs, and sets up an interesting scenario tomorrow. Both teams can now advance to the CWS finals with a win. So in that way, it’s essentially a national semifinal- one that I’m feeling really good about.

Virginia had their chance to knock Florida out today, and they couldn’t do it. Florida’s got all the momentum, which plays a bigger role in baseball than you may think. And with the way the Gators swung the bats today, they’re the logical choice to win tomorrow.