Florida has won four of five games in the NCAA Tournament and can clinch a berth in the College World Series for the third consecutive season with a win Sunday over Wake Forest. Brady Singer pitched four scoreless innings Saturday in one of his sharpest outings and first relief appearance of the season. (Photo: Courtney Culbreath/UAA Communications) GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Five games into the NCAA Tournament, one thing is clear: this is a Florida baseball team not for the faint of heart.
These Gators jack up your blood pressure and keep your legs bouncing, even after a weather delay that lasted longer than the actual game such as Saturday at McKethan Stadium. The game started on a warm and humid afternoon, and 7 hours, 34 minutes later, ended on Ryan Larson ‘s two-out, walk-off single up the middle.
Larson’s dramatic game-winner lifted the Gators to a 2-1 win in 11 innings over Wake Forest in Game 1 of the Gainesville Super Regional. His teammates rushed the field and chased Larson into center field, where they mobbed him to celebrate the end of an exhausting day at the ballpark.
More importantly, Larson’s hit moved the Gators one win from a return trip to the College World Series. And the way it played out fit the script perfectly for this team.
"Not an easy game,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. "We did just enough to win."
The Gators needed a late home run from JJ Schwarz to ease the pressure in a win against Marist, had to go 12 innings to beat USF, and after the first loss to Bethune-Cookman in school history, used an Austin Langworthy three-run homer to break a scoreless tie in the sixth inning to win the regional over Bethune. The Gators celebrate Ryan Larson’s game-winning hit in Saturday’s victory over Wake Forest. (Photo: Courtney Culbreath/UAA Communications) Nothing is stress-free for this team, O’Sullivan’s 10th at UF and perhaps the most unlikely to be knocking on Omaha’s door.
Take Larson for example. The senior outfielder started the season as a sub, regained a starting spot in the lineup, and had two of Florida’s four hits on Saturday in his first game in two weeks. Larson was hit in the head by a pitch at the SEC Tournament and missed the Gators’ regional win.
In his return, Larson wore a batting helmet with a face guard attached to protect the left side of his face.
"It definitely spooked me when it happened,” Larson said. "I felt pretty good coming into this week. They just had to put my bone back where it’s supposed to be I guess."
No big deal in Larson’s world.
The Gators can earn a third consecutive trip to the CWS with a victory Sunday over the free-swinging Demon Deacons, who struck out 23 times against the Gators’ trio of Alex Faedo , Brady Singer and Michael Byrne in Game 1.
Making what was expected to be his final home start — O’Sullivan said he could be available Monday if needed — Faedo pitched four […]