TEXAS TECH 6, FLORIDA 3
OMAHA, NE– The Florida Gators haven’t made anything easy in postseason play, so why should the College World Series be any different?
Florida will have to fight to stave off elimination for each remaining game after a 6-3 loss to Texas Tech to open the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Gators took a lead in the third inning. Deacon Liput drew a leadoff walk which forced Texas Tech to go to their bullpen. With Ryan Shetter on the mound for the Red Raiders, Liput advanced to second on a wild pitched then stole third on the fourth ball to Jonathan India. Shetter was then called for a balk that plated Liput and moved India into scoring position.
Texas Tech rebounded in the fourth to tie the game. An eerily similar circumstance surrounded the TTU run. Third baseman Josh Jung singled, advanced to second via a Brady Singer balk, and moved to third on a passed ball by Gators catcher Jonah Girand.
The Red Raiders added a pair of runs in the fifth to provide some insurance. The runs came as the result of an error by Liput. TTU’s Cody Farhat reached with a two-out single, which was followed by Braxton Fulford reaching on the error that put both runners in scoring position. Gabe Holt then singled home both runs before Brady Singer could seduce Brian Klein into a liner to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Texas Tech added two more insurance runs thanks to four consecutive one-out hits. Grant Little singled to center then promptly stole second and scored on the ensuing double by Zach Rheams. Rheams came around to score on Michael Davis’ single to center and the Red Raiders extended the lead to 5-1.
The Gators added two runs in the seventh to close the gap to within two. Brady Smith pinch hit for Girand (who had gone 0 for his last 13 with ten strikeouts in that span. Smith singled and scored on Nelson Maldonado’s two run homer to left.
The Red Raiders had an opportunity to add some insurance in the eighth with runners on second and third an no one out, but Jordan Butler got Rheams and Davis to strike out before being relieved by Gators ace reliever Michael Byrne. Byrne threw three pitches in striking out Cameron Warren, thus ending the threat.
Florida had a chance in the eighth. Austin Langworthy reached on a walk and was on third with two outs, but Nick Horvath popped out to short to end the inning and the Gators threat.
After the Gators’ failings in the eighth, Texas Tech added an insurance run in the top of the ninth with a Holt RBI single to right to extend the Red Raiders lead to 6-3.
Florida’s offensive struggles are highlighted with runners in scoring position as the Gators went 0-7 in such situations.
Brady Singer, pitching in what could be the final outing of his collegiate career, allowed five runs (two earned) in 6.1 innings.
Florida will face Texas in the early game (2:00 PM) on Tuesday. The loser will be eliminated. Texas fell to Arkansas in the earlier game on Sunday. Florida has been involved in elimination contests in every level of the postseason thus far. In Regionals, the Gators defeated FAU in the deciding game seven. In Super Regionals, Florida topped Auburn thanks to a walk-off homer by Langworthy in the deciding game three.
34 of the last 37 CWS champions began their run with a win, meaning Florida is looking to do something that is rarely accomplished.
W: Ryan Shetter (6-0)
L: Singer (13-2)