Florida survives, gets payback vs. Texas Tech at CWS

27
1948
Florida's JJ Schwarz, right, is greeted at the dugout by Jonathan India and Nelson Maldonado (27) after his two-run home run against Texas Tech in the sixth inning Thursday of a College World Series elimination game in Omaha, Neb. Florida won 9-6. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Special to Gatorsports.com

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida survived another elimination game Thursday at the College World Series and at the same time got redemption against Texas Tech with a 9-6 win.

Florida (49-20) will need to beat Arkansas (46-19) twice to return to the CWS championship series next week. The first opportunity comes at 8 p.m. (ESPN) on Friday. UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said Gators ace Brady Singer (12-2, 2.33 ERA), the national player of the year, will start Friday night.

Texas Tech, which knocked UF into the loser’s bracket with a 6-3 win Sunday, finishes its season at 45-20.

Freshman Jack Leftwich (5-5) turned in a strong mound performance for the Gators, allowing just two runs in 6.1 innings. He escaped trouble in the second and fourth innings before leaving with two runners on base in the seventh.

“I think the reason I struggled was that I was nibbling and not attacking the hitters,” Leftwich said. “I was pitching kind of scared. After we scored a couple runs, I started to attack the hitters and they were going to get themselves out.”

Florida then used Andrew Baker, Tommy Mace, Jordan Butler, Hunter McMullen and Michael Byrne out of the bullpen to close out the game. Byrne pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 16th save.

“It would have been nice not to use him,” O’Sullivan said of his closer. “We’re going to need somebody else to step up and get us some outs if we want to advance here the next couple games.”

Florida, no-hit through three innings by Texas Tech starter Caleb Killian (9-3), scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit. Jonathan Indian walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on another wild pitch.

The Gators made it 3-0 in the fifth. Blake Reese and Nick Horvath singled to put runners on the corners. Deacon Liput then doubled in Reese and Horvath scored on Nelson Maldonado’s groundout.

It became 5-0 Gators in a big way in the sixth. Wil Dalton singled before senior captain JJ Schwarz belted a two-run home run to left. It is Schwarz’s first homer at the College World Series (16 games) and 13th of the season. The Gators have hit 100 home runs this season.

Schwarz broke his right hand May 18 and returned to the lineup for Florida’s first CWS game. He was 1 for 11 in Omaha, and 1 for his last 20 overall, when he sent a 1-1 pitch from Ty Harpenau into the left-field bullpen.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Schwarz said about making it back from his injury. “I definitely felt a little better at the plate, more comfortable. Today was a good step in the right direction. I wasn’t very comfortable the first couple games. I was a little rusty. I’m getting the hang of things again.”

Texas Tech sent nine batters to the plate in the seventh to cut the Gators’ lead to 5-3. A double, single and a walk loaded the bases. Brian Klein and Josh Jung drove in runs with singles and the third scored on an error at short by Liput. Butler got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a strikeout and flyout.

UF got the three runs back in the eighth inning. Dalton doubled, Schwarz moved him to third with a groundout and Austin Langworthy’s sacrifice fly brought him home. Then, two-out RBIs made it an 8-3 game. Reese doubled and scored on a triple off the centerfield wall by catcher Brady Smith, who scored on Horvath’s single.

Texas Tech would not go away, scoring three in the eighth on a RBI single by Jung and a two-run single by Grant Little to make it 8-6.

“We knew they weren’t going away,” O’Sullivan said. “They hung in there with us, and we knew it would be a nine-inning ballgame.”

UF made it 9-6 in the ninth after India singled, stole second (his third steal of the night) and later scored on a throwing error on Langworthy’s grounder to short.

Bracket 2 finalists Florida and Arkansas haven’t met since they opened SEC play in late March. The Gators won two of three in Gainesville, with India, the SEC player of the year, going 6 for 9 with a homer and four RBIs in the series. The Razorbacks won their meeting in the SEC tournament last month.

Notes: Schwarz is only the fourth UF player in program history with 50 career home runs, joining Matt LaPorta (74), Preston Tucker (57) and Brad Wilkerson (55). … The Gators improve to 7-0 in elimination games in the NCAA Tournament since 2017. … Reese had three hits, including two doubles, and scored two runs for UF.

Florida 000 122 031—9 12 2
Texas Tech 000 000 330—6 12 1

Leftwich, Baker (7), Mace (7), Butler (7), McMullen (8), Byrne (8) and Smith; Kilian, Harpenau (5), Freeman (7), Haveman (8), Queen (8), McMillon (9) and Fulford. W_Leftwich, 5-5. L_Kilian, 9-3. Sv_Byrne (16). HR_Florida, Schwarz (13). 2B: Liput 1 (15), Dalton 1 (18), Reese 2 (19). TT: Warren 1 (16). 3B-Florida, Smith 1 (1)

27 COMMENTS

  1. Strong freshman play reflects great coaching. The whole team exudes confidence, instilled by Coach Sullivan. The Gator’s know they belong in Omaha. It showed tonight, as they hung on to beat a determined Texas Tech team with tons of offensive talent. Go Gators! Now BEAT the Hogs!

    • How wrong can someone be? What TTU does is a tradition dating back since the hiring of their current HC. Do you suppose when they were doing that against TCU they were thinking about the Gators??!! Always looking for a villain to give you an edge? I’ve seen TTU play UF now several times in baseball and basketball and they represent class. Look to LSWho or Auburn for a villain.

  2. Another great win. Sully shows again that he is a better coach than all of our fans with the offense from JJ. It’s odd to me to hear the announcers talk about how great he coaches, only to hear our fans question all of his moves. Go Gators! In Sully we trust.

    • Agreed, Sparky. Sully knows what he’s doing. And it was nice to hear the announcers talk about the game at all last night. Early on they got so much camera time talking about KP’s “bacon for life” and MLB coming to TD Ameritrade you’d have thought the game was in a rain delay. Actually, I’m not sure what they were talking about with MLB, because I spent the whole time screaming at the TV for them to get back to the game. And, it really wasn’t the TV, because I had to watch the game on Sling on my laptop. On a positive note, you don’t get the commercials on Sling, so I didn’t have to hear those supposed “student athletes”, with their angry smirks, telling me to go ahead and label them.

      Go Gators!!!

    • Sparky. I watching and listened to the game last night. Sully is a great coach, but the announcers were questioning some of his moves last night. I was as well and the Red Raiders made come back after comeback moves late in the game with freshmen pitchers coming in for the Gators and walking people left and right with big leads. At the end, and because of that, the Red Raiders were one swing away from winning the game at the end. Fortunately, the Tech player did not get all of that ball and only hit it deep to center instead of out to center. If that ball has flown out of the park, people would be on here right now questioning Sully as a decision maker big time. Just saying. I know I was pulling my hair out during the 7th, 8rh, and 9th innings as Florida lost big lead after big lead and Tech has the winning run at the plate at the end of the ninth. Go Gators.

  3. Great win but I still question the pitching moves of Sully. Why not lead off with Jordan Butler in that later inning and leave him in until he gets into trouble? After he gets you out of a jam you bring in McMullen?!?Dude was wild from jump and there’s no way I give him another sniff of the mound. Butler was doing just fine and if you leave him in you don’t have to use Byrne at all. You have a 5 run cushion with him on the mound yet you run that dude (McMullen) out there to dam near give the game away by walking half the team. Not a good move. Please, please, PLEASE have fielding practice with Dalton. That dude scares the crap outta me every time a ball is hit his way. He’s guaranteed to overrun or bobble a ball every game. Better job with patience at the plate. Keep fighting and GO GATORS!!

    • Man they won!! Leave the coaching to Sully. Pretty sure he knows what he’s doing and is by far the best coach in college baseball right now. He was obviously trying to save his best arms knowing 2 more games are to be played, including one the very next day. Some Gator fans really kill me. After a great win, they always find something to complain about.

    • Sully’s record shows he knows what he’s doing, none of us are qualified to second guess him. I mean, it’s part of the fun criticizing from the coach, we all do, but when push comes to shove Sully knows much more than us little league coaches. Go Gators!!

  4. Yeah baby! A little bit of an Alamo on those two Texas teams. SEC in domination for this CWS. A tough night for outfielders with that wind, but Horvath seemed to adjust quite nicely. I had not seen McMullen as yet, and when his control gets better he will be a force. Dude throws every pitch 96+! I too second guessed Sully’s pitching decisions, but that’s why he’s the coach and we’re not. He has put some truly remarkable plays on in this tourney. Some worked, some did not, but no one else has even attempted what he has called. 2 down, 2 to go. All hands on deck. GO GATORS!

  5. Easy to say now that we won, but I think Sully did the right thing letting McMullen, Baker and Mace pitch last night. Those are 3 guys that will need to play a pivotal role if, and WHEN, we get back to Omaha. We’ve got Byrne 1 more year tops and that’s not a guarantee. And really, outside of Byrne, is there anyone right now that you really, really, really trust to come out of the pen? Butler has done fine, but he got SUPER lucky last night. But that’s OK. When he comes next year, and the year after, it won’t be his first go around. Plus, Sully was playing w/ the goal of winning a national title, not of winning 1 game. Yea, you could throw Byrne out there for 2.2 innings and he throws 45 pitches, and you win 9-3. But what about the next 2 days?

  6. Outstanding win for Gators. Leftwich has come up big in several key games down the stretch and looks like a quality Friday night starter for next season. Very pleased that Sully went with Brady Smith behind the plate.
    Brady played a solid defensive game and contrubuted a big triple in late innings. I agree with some of the comments that Sully took a gamble not going to the Butler-Byrne combo after Leftwich’s strong outing. Made the game a little tighter than it needed to be. In any event, a great win and Go Gators.

    Is it true that Brady Singer will get the start tonight on four days rest?

  7. Love the way my boys hung in there with a determined Texas Tech team…miss seeing them in The Swamp-‘those’ balmy’ doubleheaders-but Omaha is looking pretty sweet right now! Two down, two to go.#bleedorangenblue