Gators beat Virginia 10-5 to force another CWS bracket final
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) The way Florida has been swinging the bat, the Gators' shutout loss to Virginia looks like an aberration now.
The Gators scored four runs in the third inning and five in the sixth on their way to a 10-5 win over the Cavaliers on Friday, forcing a second Bracket 1 final at the College World Series.
Richie Martin doubled twice and reached four times as the Gators scored in double digits for the fifth time in six games. They are the first team since South Carolina in 2002 to score 10 or more runs in three CWS games.
"We have a tendency to have big innings," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "In order to have big innings, you have to have a consistent lineup, one through nine. We're getting a lot of contributions up and down the lineup, and it just allows us when we get things rolling to build some big innings."
The Gators (52-17) and Cavaliers (41-23) will play again Saturday, with the winner going to the best-of-three finals starting Monday against defending champion Vanderbilt. Virginia, which lost for the first time in eight NCAA Tournament games, is trying to make the finals for the second straight year.
Florida ruined the return of Virginia ace Nathan Kirby, who had been sidelined for nine weeks because of a strained back muscle. The Gators also avenged a 1-0 loss to Virginia on Monday. In that game, Brandon Waddell and Josh Sborz combined on a two-hitter.
This time, Florida's offense looked more like the one that outscored Miami 25-5 in two games the past week.
"They've got power. They've got speed. They've got a really, really nice club," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "I don't ever try to forecast what's going to happen during the game, but I knew it would take a good effort, starting with Kirby."
Just like his miserable night in the opener of last year's CWS finals against Vanderbilt, Kirby (5-3) couldn't make it out of the third inning. Florida tagged him for four runs on five hits in the third and made it 9-1 with a five-run sixth against Alec Bettinger and David Rosenberger.
"I just wanted to throw strikes, especially at this stage," Kirby said. "You see what happens when you give the other team momentum and a couple extra bases. They're going to capitalize."
Kirby retired five of his first six batters, and he picked off the other one. The trouble started with one out in the third. Nos. 8 and 9 batters Dalton Guthrie and Ryan Larson singled, Harrison Bader had an RBI groundout and Martin and Josh Tobias drove in runs with a double and single.
That brought on Bettinger, who retired seven of eight before the Gators' offense rose up again.
"I just think that we're coming together as a team at the right time," Martin said. "We haven't really put everything together as an offense, defense and pitching-wise, so it's nice to get this going in the postseason when it matters."
Gators starter Logan Shore (11-6) won for the second time at the CWS. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs and eight hits. Bobby Poyner limited the Gators to two hits and an unearned run over the last 2 2/3 innings.
"At the start of the SEC tournament, everyone just started hitting, especially when I'm on the mound," Shore said. "Seems like every single game they're putting up double-digit runs, which is awesome. It gives you a lot of confidence going into a new game. I gave up a run in the first there, and I knew we were going to bounce back."