Gators bats go silent in loss to Virginia; rematch with Miami looms
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- It was a stunning turnaround for Florida.
Two nights after the Gators scored the most runs in the five years the College World Series has been played at TD Ameritrade Park, they were limited to just two hits by Brandon Waddell and Josh Sborz in a 1-0 loss to Virginia on Monday.
"We ran across a really good pitcher who located his pitches and didn't give us a whole lot," Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I'm giving all the credit to Waddell. I trust our guys. We have to bounce back. We have no choice but to move forward."
The Gators (50-17) will play an elimination game Wednesday against Miami, the team they beat 15-3 in their Omaha opener. The winner of that game plays Friday against the Cavaliers (41-22), the 2014 national runners-up.
"We'll have to work our way through the losers' bracket. We've done it before," O'Sullivan said. "We won four straight in the SEC tournament, and we've got plenty of pitching to get through it."
Florida starter A.J. Puk held Virginia scoreless on one hit through five innings, but the Cavaliers strung together three straight singles to load the bases with one out in the sixth. That brought on Taylor Lewis in relief to face Robbie Coman, who lofted a sacrifice fly to score Matt Thaiss.
That was the only run the Cavaliers needed, thanks to the work out Sborz after the Gators started to get to Waddell (4-5) in the eighth. Dalton Guthrie drew a walk and reached third on No. 9 batter Ryan Larson's liner into right center.
Sborz, who pitched three innings of one-hit shutout relief against Arkansas on Saturday, came on to face Harrison Bader with none out. Bader sent a hard drive right back at Sborz, who had his glove knocked off as he protected his head. Sborz gathered himself and threw to second for the force out. Richie Martin then lined out to second and Josh Tobias grounded out.
"It was all reaction," Sborz said of knocking down Bader's shot. "From there, I got lucky throwing it to second. I was just happy because I didn't get hit in the head."
O'Sullivan said, "If the ball gets through, it's a totally different ballgame."
Sborz induced three groundouts in the ninth to earn his 15th save and end the Gators' 10-game win streak.
Waddell, the Pittsburgh Pirates' fifth-round draft pick, came into the game 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in eight career NCAA Tournament starts. In two CWS outings last year he held TCU to one earned run in seven innings, and he scattered five hits in a complete-game victory over Vanderbilt in the finals.
Until the eighth inning Monday, all the Gators could muster against him was Peter Alonso's infield single on a dribbler down the third-base line.
Florida came in batting .338 in the postseason and having outscored opponents 68-15 in its first six NCAA Tournament games.
The Gators were shut out for the third time this season Monday.
Virginia coach BrianO'Connor said he wouldn't have imagined one run would be enough to win the game.
"We had the right guy on the mound tonight," he said.