Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2017 College World Series: No. 3 Florida Advances to Semifinals with Win Over No. 7 Louisville

The No. 3 Florida Gators (49-18) are within a win of the College World Series Finals after defeating the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (53-11) by a score of 5-1 on Tuesday night.

Making his first-career College World Series start, sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) was incredible. He delivered seven strong innings and yielded just one run on six hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.

Singer had four 1-2-3 innings and struck out the side in the third inning. Only three times the whole game did a runner reach third base against him. The first occurrence was in the sixth inning and nothing came of it as Singer ended the frame with a strikeout.

In the seventh, Louisville finally tagged Singer for a run and eventually loaded the bases down 5-1 with two outs. After falling behind 2-0 to leadoff man Logan Taylor, Singer delivered a strike before inducing an inning-ending groundout to Dalton Guthrie at shortstop.

At 101 pitches and with Florida comfortably up four runs, Singer's night was over after escaping the seventh inning jam. In the eighth, junior left-hander Nick Horvath took over. He dispatched the first two batters easily before giving up a double to fourth overall pick Brendan McKay.

Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan had seen enough and pulled Horvath for freshman right-hander Tyler Dyson. His first batter would be Cardinal third baseman Drew Ellis. The count would go full on the junior, but ultimately Dyson would win the battle as he got Ellis to foul out down the first base line to end the inning.

Returning for the ninth, Dyson used a groundout and two strikeouts to secure the Gator victory. Dyson's effectiveness was critical as it prevented Florida from having to use closer Michael Byrne for the second straight game. No save stat would be issued in this game, but Brady Singer was awarded his eighth victory of the season.

Florida slugged their way past Louisville on just five hits that produced five runs. The Gators struck for one run in the third, three in the fourth, and one in the seventh. All of Florida's run production came from the bottom of the lineup as the five through eight-hole hitters had at least one base knock.

Out of the eight-hole, freshman left fielder Austin Langworthy jumpstarted the offense in the third inning. With the count 0-1, Langworthy smacked a pitch down the left field line that barely stayed fair to give Florida an early 1-0 advantage. It would be his only hit of the evening and one of two Florida home runs on the night.

The second Florida long ball would come off the bat of sophomore second baseman Deacon Liput, who was the only Gator with multiple hits in the game. Going 2-3, Liput hit a big three-run home run into the right field bullpen to extend the lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning. In addition to his three RBI's, Liput scored twice and drew a walk. His dinger came with two outs and the count at 1-2.

The remaining Gators with hits were sophomore third baseman Jonathan India (1-4 with a run scored and a stolen base) and junior catcher Mike Rivera (1-4 with an RBI double in the seventh inning). Though hitless on the night, sophomore right fielder Nelson Maldonaldo drew a walk and scored on Liput's homer.

Florida committed no errors in this game while Louisville had one. It came in the fourth inning when senior right fielder Colin Lyman dropped a fly ball off the bat of Mike Rivera. This fielding gaffe would not come back to hurt the Cardinals.

Final Takeaway
This was a huge win for Florida as they are now on the brink of playing in the third College World Series Finals in school history! Before previewing their next matchup, here are my final thoughts on the win over Louisville:

  • Florida is now 16-21 all-time in the College World Series
  • This is the first time since 2011 that Florida has started 2-0 in the College World Series.
  • Florida is now 5-1 all-time against Louisville.
  • Deacon Liput's homer was just his third of the year while Austin Langworthy's was his fourth.
  • This was Liput's 14th multi-hit game of the season and he has now hit safely in seven straight games.
  • Jonathan India's stolen base in the fourth inning was his 12th of the season, tying him with Deacon Liput for the team lead.
  • Mike Rivera's double was his seventh of the season.
  • Despite giving up four runs on two big flies, Louisville junior starter Kade McClure (8-4, 3.58 ERA) was not terrible. He allowed just three hits while walking Nelly and striking out nine Gators.
  • Louisville's top offensive performer was none other than Brendan McKay. He went 2-4 with two doubles and a run scored. Colin Lyman was the one who plated him in the bottom of the seventh inning.
  • 22,222 fans (talk about even) were in attendance for this SEC/ACC showdown.

Looking Ahead
Now in the driver's seat, No. 3 Florida will await the winner of the TCU/Louisville elimination game. Regardless, the semifinals will be a rematch and whoever survives will have to face Florida's undefeated sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar (12-0, 4.00 ERA) on Friday night.

After two years of sheer disappointment, it is crazy to think that Florida is one win away from playing for a national championship! They cannot think too far ahead though, as both No. 6 TCU (48-17) or No. 7 Louisville (53-11) are still lurking out there.

First pitch for Florida's first crack at reaching the College World Series Finals is set for 8 p.m. on Friday, June 23rd. The game can be seen on ESPN and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network (which, I may add, is pretty insightful and worth a listen).

As for No. 7 Louisville... I've made it quite clear. They will play No. 6 TCU with their season on the line. First pitch is set for 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 22nd, and the game can be seen on ESPN.


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