Disappointed Gators ready to rally again


Coastal Carolina pitcher Andrew Beckwith, right, beats Florida's Jeremy Vasquez (24) to first base for the out during the eighth inning Sunday.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, June 20, 2016 at 6:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 20, 2016 at 8:37 p.m.

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida has taken the bumpier paths throughout the 2016 postseason.

Facts

Tuesday
What:
Elimination game
Who: No. 5 Texas Tech (46-19) vs. No. 1 Florida (52-15)
Where: TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Nebraska
When: 5 p.m.
TV: ESPN2
Radio: AM-850, 95.3-FM

So as the Gators prepared Monday for their elimination game Tuesday against Texas Tech at the College World Series (5 p.m. ET, ESPN), there was a sense of calm. The Gators have been in this position before. First, in the SEC Tournament, when Florida lost its first game in a double-elimination format and rallied to win three straight and reach the finals against Texas A&M.

Then, in last weekend's Super Regional, when Florida was shut out in its first game against FSU and rallied to win the series.

Florida will look to draw from those experiences after falling to the loser's bracket following a 2-1 loss Sunday night against Coastal Carolina.

“We'll talk about it, about the SEC Tournament and we got to the final game and then obviously lost the first one against Florida State and won the next two,” Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said, “That's all we can do at this point. There's a lot of people disappointed. I'm disappointed to be honest with you … but we'll bounce back.”

Even last year in the loser's bracket, Florida nearly made a run to the College World Series finals series. Facing elimination last year, the Gators won two straight games against Miami and Virginia before falling to eventual national champion Virginia the Saturday before the finals.

This season, Florida would need to win four straight games to reach the finals. The last team to lose its opening game and win the College World Series was South Carolina in 2010.

“Last year proved to us it was doable,” Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie said. “I think if there's any team capable of doing it, it may be us, because of the arms we have. We've had our backs against the wall before, in the SEC Tournament and the Super Regional. We're accustomed to it.”

To accomplish that feat, the Gators (52-15) will need to string more hits together. Florida had just one run on seven hits against Andrew Beckwith, who befuddled Florida hitters with a mix of submarine, three-quarter and overhand deliveries.

“He was funky, a different look,” Guthrie said. “Really we just have to not think about that, put it behind us, and play to our potential and scratch out runs any way we can. The park, being as big as it is, we've got to be able to play small ball, manufacture some runs.”

Florida left four runners on base and grounded into two double plays. Beckwith recorded 19 ground outs and retired the last 10 batters he faced.

“He pitched to his defense, throwing strikes,” Florida third baseman Jonathan India said. “We had seven hits so it wasn't like we didn't have some quality at-bats. We just need to continue and put some quality at-bats together on Tuesday.”

Texas Tech is expected to start freshman right-handed pitcher Davis Martin (9-1, 2.73 ERA) against Florida sophomore righty Alex Faedo (13-2, 3.25 ERA).

India said the mood in practice Monday remained upbeat despite the disappointing result Sunday.

“It was a disappointment, but we've done it before,” India said. “We've lost the first game in the postseason and have been able to get on a roll. So we're going to just have to keep playing hard, playing together. There's no pressure, just go out and play.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or kevin.brockway@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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