Photo by Jay Biggerstaff | Getty Images

As the old adage goes, hitting is contagious. This is proven over and over as teams often go into long slumps as their star players do.

This Florida Gators team is no different. Since the start of the College World Series in Omaha, the top three hitters in the Florida lineup have been mired in a slump that actually started well before arriving in Nebraska.

The Gators opened their trip to Omaha by going 3-0 through their bracket to advance to the championships series. This led to few questions about the lack of production out of the lineup or the top three batters in the order.

A loss to LSU to open the CWS Finals exposed what nobody was ready to talk about, a struggling offense. In game one, the Gators struck out an astonishing twenty times. Many on pitches being chased well out of the zone.

Through four games in Omaha, the Florida lineup was collectively hitting just .214 overall. Worse yet, the 1-3 hitters (Cade Kurland, Wyatt Langford, and Jac Caglianone), were just 8-52 (.154 average) during the CWS.

If the Florida offense was going to turn it around, it had to start at the top.

On Sunday, they did just that. Kurland led off the game with a single to short before a Langford walk. Though the Gators exited the first inning without a score, the importance of those two guys getting on was massive.

In the third inning, Kurland led off by getting plunked on the first pitch of the at-bat. Langford followed with a single and Caglianone added an RBI single. This set up a six run inning that put the Gators ahead for good.

Florida added a run in the fourth inning as Kurland opened the frame with a walk and reached second on a single by Langford. Kurland scored on a fielder’s choice by Caglianone. Yet again, these three played catalyst.

After Colby Halter led off the sixth with a double to right-center, Kurland was hit by a(nother) pitch. Langford followed by crushing a 0-1 pitch well beyond the left-field fence. Three pitches later, Caglianone sent one to the seats, as well.

Kurland hit a one out double in the seventh and scored when Langford hit a double down the left field line on the next pitch. After moving to third on a passed ball, Langford crossed home on Caglianone’s groundout.

Despite being armed with a huge lead, the Gators’ top three weren’t done. In the eighth, Langford hit a two-run double and Caglianone followed with his BBCOR-era record 33rd homer of the year.

  • Kurland: 2-3, 2B, 4 R, BB, 2 HBP
  • Langford: 5-5, HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 4 R, BB
  • Caglianone: 3-6, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R
  • Collectively: 10-14 (.714), 3 HR, 3 2B, 11 RBI, 11 R, 2 BB, 2 HBP

The top of the Florida order was clutch when the Gators needed it most. As a result, the entire lineup fed off that energy and scored a CWS record 24 runs.

The Gators will now face LSU in a winner take all contest Monday night. If Florida is going to win its second national championship, the top of the order is likely to need to come through in the clutch one more time this season.

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