At some point here in Omaha, Florida’s players expect to be locked in a pressure-filled nail-biter. The game will be close. The stakes will be high.
The Gators have been at their best on those days when you’re in need of clutch plays and clean baseball to survive a tightly contested affair.
They’ve played 25 one-run games this year. That’s more than one-third of their schedule. They’ve won a nation-leading 18 of those one-run contests — including the last eight.
And that doesn’t count a couple recent extra-inning games — they scored four runs in the 12th to win beat USF in the regional and they lost on a two-run walkoff homer against Wake Forest in the super regional round. They’ve had 10 other games decided by two or three runs.
“We’re really resilient,” junior right-hander Alex Faedo said. “I think it’s a good representation of the coaching staff. They work us hard. We like that. Because we know when the game gets tough, we’re not going to fold. We’ve shown that we can come out and find ways to win.”
Florida closer Michael Byrne has played a big part in that. He’s recorded 16 saves and has produced a 1.83 ERA. He’s held opposing batters to a .218 average.
Before struggling some against Wake Forest last weekend (three runs in two appearances), Byrne had allowed just one earned run over his previous 17 2/3 innings.
“Every time he’s out there, everyone feels completely comfortable with him no matter what the lead is,” junior catcher JJ Schwarz said.
“We’ve played so many close games — and most of the games here are going to be close,” Schwarz said. “I feel like we’ve already been through that. … We’re really comfortable going into tight games.”