By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer
For the first time since 2012, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball is going back to Omaha, Nebraska, after earning a spot in the 2015 College World Series on Saturday night. Florida (49-16) overcame an early two-run deficit to earn an 11-4 victory over the Florida State Seminoles at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.
UF outscored FSU 24-9 over during the 2015 Gainesville Super Regionals, pulling off a 13-5 win on Friday night.
Freshman catcher JJ Schwarz (3/4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R) led the way on offense for the Gators with two deep blasts to left field. Schwarz, Florida’s rookie phenom, owns a new school record with 18 home runs during his freshman campaign. Schwarz has hit a blazing hot 22-for-39 (.564) in postseason play, going 12-for-20 (.600) in five 2015 NCAA Tournament games. If Schwarz can keep his hot streak up next week in Omaha, UF will be tough to beat.
This year’s berth marks Florida’s ninth trip to the College World Series, its fourth in eight seasons under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan (2010-12). UF will face No. 5 Miami in opening-round action; the Gators took two-of-three games from the Canes in Gainesville from Feb. 20-22.
Here are three takeaways from Florida’s Super Regional sweep:
1. Early momentum: The Noles were not ready to concede the Super Regional to the Gators after Friday’s lopsided victory. Florida State took advantage of a rare multi-error first inning (with other miscues absent from the box score) to jump out to a 2-0 lead and grab the early momentum. Florida snatched the mojo right back thanks to a mammoth two-run homer off the bat of Schwarz in the top of the second. Schwarz showcased his maturity by not letting two dropped balls in the first inning negatively affect his approach at the plate.
2. Dominant when it mattered: Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk had a solid but not spectacular outing (4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER [4 R], 3 BB, 6 K). Puk struggled in the first and fifth innings but dominated the second thorugh fourth innings, quieting FSU’s bats as UF mounted a 9-2 advantage.
3. Extra motivation: With the 2015 MLB Draft just around the corner, this was likely the last home game for two junior leaders in left fielder Harrison Bader (2/5, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB) and shortstop Richie Martin (2/6, HR, RBI, R). These upperclassmen went out in style on one of the most memorable days of their college careers. Martin and Bader had previously seen their seasons end in the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament but certainly made the most of their opportunities on Saturday.
— Matt den Dekker (@UpperDekker) June 7, 2015
— Anthony DeSclafani (@ADeSclafani) June 7, 2015
Congrats fellas! @GatorZoneBB
— Nick Maronde (@NickMaronde) June 7, 2015
The Florida Gators are going back to Omaha!!! #GoGators
— Preston Tucker (@PrestonTucker20) June 7, 2015
Congrats @GatorZoneBB on beating FSU and heading out to the CWS.
— Matt LaPorta (@The_MattLaPorta) June 7, 2015