Texas Tech outplays Florida, 6-3, at College World Series

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Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan, center, covers his mouth as he talks to pitcher Brady Singer (51) and catcher Jonah Girand in the fifth inning Sunday of the College World Series game against Texas Tech in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Special to Gatorsports.com

OMAHA, Neb. — Texas Tech knocked top-overall seed Florida into the loser’s bracket of the College World Series with a 6-3 win Sunday night.

The Gators (47-20), the defending national champions, will play Texas (42-22) in an elimination game Tuesday afternoon and will start Jackson Kowar. The ninth-seeded Red Raiders (45-18) will play Arkansas (45-19) in a 7 p.m. winner’s bracket game Tuesday.

To have a chance to repeat as champions, the Gators must win four straight to reach the best-of-three finals. Only Oregon State in 2006 and South Carolina 2010 have lost their Omaha openers and made it to the finals since the tournament went to its current structure in 1999.

“There’s no rewind button here. We lost. We’ve got to move forward,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s certainly doable. Ultimately, we’re going to have to have some other guys step up.”

Florida took a 1-0 lead in the third inning without the benefit of a hit. Deacon Liput walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third as Jonathan India walked. Liput scored and Indian moved to second when a balk was called.

Texas Tech tied it in the fourth when Josh Jung singled, moved to second on a balk, to third on a passed ball and scored on a Grant Little sacrifice fly.

The Red Raiders then scored two runs in each of the next two innings to take a 5-1 lead. In the fifth, Cody Farhat singled and advanced to third on a two-base throwing error by Liput at short. Gabe Holt then hit a two-run single.

In the sixth, a single by Little followed by a run-scoring double from Zach Rheams and RBI single from Michael Davis provided the run production for Texas Tech.

Nelson Maldonado’s two-run home run in the seventh inning helped UF cut the deficit to 5-3. Brady Smith, pinch-hitting for catcher Jonah Girand, had reached on a single before scoring on Maldonado’s ninth homer of the season.

Texas Tech, which is now 2-0 against UF in CWS play, extended its lead in the ninth on a RBI single by Holt.

“There are a lot of good teammates on this team, and they’re thankful we’re in the position we’re in. They don’t take it for granted,” Tech coach Tim Tadlock said. “There aren’t too many guys in there after we won tonight saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got this figured out.’

“That’s one game. Really proud of our guys of how we went out and competed. We were going to have to do that each inning to come out on the right side. And also have some good fortune.”

Texas Tech pitchers limited the Gators to five hits but issued five walks. That was more than good enough against a Florida offense that has struggled for three straight games.

Brady Singer (12-2) in possibly his final college start allowed two earned runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and didn’t allow a walk.

Florida allowed three unearned runs on a passed ball and a two-out error. The Gators didn’t allow an unearned run in last year’s title run at the CWS.

Relief pitcher Ryan Shetter (6-0) kept the Gators at bay by allowing only one run in 4.1 innings after taking over for starter Dylan Dusek. Shetter struck out seven and gave up only three hits.

Because of a two-hour-and-47-minute weather delay, Game 4 didn’t start until 9:55 p.m. ET Sunday and ended at 12:55 a.m. Arkansas defeated Texas 11-5 in Game 3, which restarted at 7:15 ET in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Senior captain JJ Schwarz started at first base for Florida and batted fourth. It’s the first time he’s been in the lineup since breaking his right hand at Mississippi State on May 18. Schwarz hit the ball hard in his first at-bat, a fly out to right. He struck out his next two at-bats, however, and grounded out in his final at-bat. He also looked rusty with his footwork defensively at first base.

The Gators were outhit 12-5 and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and 1-for-15 with runners on base. The Gators had runners at third three times and failed each time to get them home. In its last three games, Florida has scored a total of eight runs while batting .186.

Girand, who had been filling in for Schwarz and remained in the lineup at catcher, continues to struggle with the bat after hitting three home runs in four regional games. Since then he has struck out on 10 of 13 at-bats.

Texas Tech 000 122 001—6 12 1
Florida 001 000 200—3 5 1

Dusek, Shetter (3), Harpenau (7) and Fulford; Singer, Butler (7), Byrne (8)and Girand, Smith (7). W_Shetter, 6-0. L_Singer, 12-2. HR_Florida, Maldonado (9).

66 COMMENTS

  1. The hitting slump finally caught up to us. Brady is human and had a couple bad innings. Although our defense didn’t help much. We acted like we have never seen a breaking ball. Our bats have been relatively silent all throughout the playoffs. Texas Tech is 2-4 in CWS with both wins against us. I guess credit Texas Tech, they certainly can hit and pitched well.

  2. @RAN, the “finger jaws” as you called it was not a dig on the gator chomp… as a Tech alum, I can assure you that has been a sign from the bench all year long when a player does something good.

  3. Well is was a good run this year. we’ll win another game but theres no way this group is going to win 4 straight! Schwartz injury turned our season around to the negative, just couldnt get over losing a great catcher and the overwhelming best hitter in baseball, at .459 over his last 10 games when injured! ………. See you next year!

  4. It’s great to make the College World Series and your not going to win a national championship every year. This team has just not been playing that well down the stretch with way too many mistakes they were not committing early in the year but to be honest overall well done!

  5. Gators mailed in the Miss. State series, and never got their mojo back. Lack of focus defensively and at the plate. JJ’s injury also cannot be overstated as to its importance. Girand is like we’re playing in the national league, he is hitting as bad as or worse than a pitcher since his unbelieveable regional. And JJ hasn’t played first base all year, and it showed, as did his rust at the plate. We’d be better off if Kenan Bell just played first, and if JJ can’t catch, can somebody else besides Girand, somebody who can hit his weight?

  6. Gators had total of 5 hits, left runners on 3rd each of the first 3 innings, went 1 for 15 with men on base and were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. All of this against a pitching staff that has a season ERA ranked below 100. Took numerous fast balls down the middle for called strikes while having numerous strikeouts swinging at balls in the dirt. Cap that with a defense that has become an adventure on every ground ball. With all this, no pitching staff on earth can save the day. Guess we’ll see if they turn it around tomorrow.

  7. This freekin’ team is such a head scratcher for e myriad of reasons. As a former minor league pitcher it just baffles me why our pitchers keep throwing 0-2 strikes. As a pitcher you never EVER throw a hittable pitch 0-2 and that should be mandatory for anyone who has ever picked up a ball. The fielding errors re just inexcuseable. A college shortstop should be able to make a damn routine throw to first base without air mailing it into the opposing dugout. Get on top of the ball and let it go!! Make that throw and the inning is over. Damage-none. Our hitters are not patient at ALL!! I would bat JJ 8th, move Horvath up and Dalton down. JJ is not ready to bat 4th and he swings at too many 1st pitches. All of them do. The idea is to make the pitcher work and they make his job easy by coming in swing from the ass at the first pitch they see. If the pitcher walks a guy on 4 straight or 5 pitches then the next guy up should know to take a pitch or two to see if he’s rattled but no. They come up swinging at the 1st dam pitch. Dalton is an error waiting to happen and just has no plan at all at the plate; just as much as Girand is a strikeout waiting to happen. If they keep making errors and base-running gaffes at this rate it will a quick trip back to Gainesville. Langworthy has to make that catch-I knew as soon as I saw the play that he overran the ball-slow down, locate the ball, make the catch. I hope they can turn it around. Go Gators!!

  8. This team is such a head scratcher for a myriad of reasons. I’m a former minor league pitcher/position player and as an All American, All SEC and 1st rd pick Singer should know NOT to throw an 0-2 strike to ANY hitter. That’s stuff that you learn at the little league/travel league level. To have that many hits on 0-2 counts is inexcuseable. And all of these defensive errors will ultimately doom this team in. How can a shortstop airmail a throw to first with no stress on getting it there? Grip the ball, get on top of it and let it fly! Make that throw and the inning is over and its a different ball game. Langworthy needs to make that catch as well. I knew as soon as I saw it that he overran the ball. Slow down, locate the ball and make the catch. The hitters need to show patience. The only 2 hitters that take ANY pitches are Maldonado and India. Everyone else comes to the plate swinging out of their ass!! If the guy ahead of you walks on 4 straight WHY on earth are you swinging at the next dam pitch!!??! Make the pitcher work but when you do that you’re making his job easier. And another mistake was placing JJ back at 4th in the order when he’s clearly not ready. Place him down, like 7th or 8th. I like Horvath up in the order as opposed to having Dalton there. That dude is an error or a strikeout waiting to happen as is Girand. Let’s hope the errors stop and patience at the plate picks up. Go Gators!!

  9. Unfortunately, I saw this coming. Kept saying if this batting slump continued we’d pay the price for it, because the bats have been the catalyst for this team’s success this season. If we aren’t hitting, we simply don’t have the pitching to make up for it. Then to have our defense fall apart and give up several crucial runs to TT? Just smh…

    I love Sully, but he played this season wrong. We were running red-hot during the last UGA series and clinched part of the SEC Title. Then when we went into Starkville for the final series of the regular season, Sully went into post-season mode and took this team’s mental foot off the gas and tried to coast through the final series.

    He started shuffling the pitching order around (and no, I don’t buy this “hamstring injury” excuse about Singer, he could have till played game #1 @ MSU practically at 100%). Then we got swept, beaten badly as a matter of fact, and it snowballed from there, and he was never able to get this team’s pilot light re-ignited again. Playing lacksidasically and unfocused is also what got JJ hurt imo. Playing careful does that.

    You cannot coast into the regionals when you still have several regular season games to play, but we shut it down too early this year thinking we could just turn it all back on come regional time, and we were lucky to sneak through those too.

    Hope this is a valuable lesson learned by our staff.

  10. I, too, wonder if something is going on behind the scenes that’s taken the fire and swag out of this team. Is coach Mac-n-cheese poking his voodoo doll or something???? Just bizarre to go from being white-coal hot to frigid with the flip of a switch.

    • Hitting is streaky but fundamental defense should be expected game in and game out and the Gators haven’t done that since clinching the SEC. The other elephant in the room is the draft. The rule of thumb for Florida is the more players taken high in the draft, the more the team is distracted heading into the CWS (see 2012, 2016). Takes a special mentality to not be thinking ahead to the next step. That’s why Faedo should be cherished. He’s the pitcher that got UF over the top last season.

      • Kevin, agree completely in regards to the defensive lapses of late. I also believe that the Gators have historically performed poorer at the CWS when they are the #1 or #2 seeds, including a couple of “2 and Through” trips to Omaha. Lots of theories on this I’m sure. Many have praised the level of talent on this year’s team, commenting that it is more talented than last year’s Championship squad. Probably true, but therein could also lie part of the problem with the focus they have had of late. Teams they have been losing to (and even beating) going back to the SEC tourney have just seemed to want it more. Hope we see more focus and “want to” in remaining games or game.

      • Good points Kevin, but the draft wasnt going on during our regular season finale four game losing streak and into the SEC tourney.

        The drop-off from the AU and UGA series into the MSU and SEC Tourney was just way too extreme and noticeable. It was like a light switch being clicked off.

        We were dominating people before the trip to Starkville, and then it just… stopped.

        Ive seen it too many times before… the hbc shut down the team into coast mode for the regionals and he couldnt get them back to the level they were before Starkville.

        I love Sully and think hes a great coach, but think he just made an error in judgement at regular season’s end this year.

  11. Uh, this tournament is not over yet. The Gators have not been eliminated . LSU got the heck beat out of them last year early , if not heir first game, and came back to scare us in the finals. We have the pitching depth to come back. We have been slumping , no doubt, and this team is not playing like it was earlier in the season. It’s been a combination of things: Shwartz out, Girande in, unusually bad D and hitting woes.
    These are all things we can control. The other factor is teams have been making ESPN highlight reel plays against us that they probably wouldn’t make 20 games ago. That we can’t control.Bad luck. These guys are resilient. Whoever the genius is who made it sound like we are 0-2 every year in the College World Series, think about this next time you sit on the edge of the roof when FSU is on TV: getting to Omaha is tough –ask Tennesse and FSU and the other schools where a guy can be his own brother; Omaha has been our second home; we won the NC last year, which I know is a long time ago when you transition from crayons to type; and we have been in at least two finals , that I remember , and probably forgot another. It’s tough being a FSU baseball fan, especially when the Gators treat the Nole baseball team like a bunch of farm animals. I don’t blame folks for thinking bad about us. They have pills for stuff like that, God bless’em.

    • I understamd what youre saying and agree to an extent, but which Kowar is going to show up tomorrow? The shut down version, or the version that self destructs and is replaced after four innings? Kowar is 50/50 imo, very Jeckel & Hyde.

      If he’s on, we’ll beat Texas, but after that, unless our bats just catch on fire (like mid-season form), we arent going to last long after that.

  12. My take- Gators win with pitching and defense. Sully made a major tactical error putting JJ at first in a game with your ace on the hill. Kenan Bell is an excellent fielder and as a left hander (glove in right hand) he would have saved Liput’s throw and sccoped up Holt’s grounder. Inninig over Gators on top. Dalton has become a liability at the plate and Girand is clearly overmatched against quality pitching. If JJ can’t catch, let him DH and put Maldonado in right with Bell at first, Brady Smith catching- Dalton on the bench.

  13. Last night was as bad I could have imagined and they still only last by 3. I don’t know how many hanging curve balls those awful TT pitchers got away with or how many 2 strike pitchers Singer sent right down the middle. And perhaps we could teach Girand to sacrifice, to squeeze, anything to put the ball in play.

    Not giving up hope. Typical whiny naysayers who don’t have the courage to admit how wrong they were last year. Such a great way to live, seeing doom and hopelessness as soon as a challenge arises. Got my tix for tomorrow and we’ll be screaming our lungs out for the team! And if they lose, we’ll cheer them off the field and look forward to next year.

  14. Several comments refer to Gators easing up on the pedal after their SEC championship was secured vs Georgia in mid May.

    I circled May 17 on my calendar as the date/game where things started to get dodgy for the Gators. First game at Miss State. Tommy Mace, pitching a gem– top of 7th– no runs, five hits, no walks and 5 Ks. Gators leading 3-0. Inexplicably, Sully pulled him after 6.1 and the house caved in with Butler and Byrne getting hammered and losing the game 6-3 – and followed by full sweep by MSU that weekend. They have not been the same ball club since. Next night- JJ is behind the pate and gets hit in the hand….