By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer
One down and four to go. An 11-run fourth inning carried No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (47-19) to a 15-3 blowout win over the No. 5 Miami Hurricanes in the opening round of the 2015 College World Series on Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska.
The 15 runs Florida scored set a new record for CWS games in TD Ameritrade Park, which has hosted the series since 2011.
The Gators big inning almost didn’t happen. In the bottom of the fourth, senior third baseman Josh Tobias (1/4, 3 RBI, 2 R) drew a lead off walk, and freshman catcher JJ Schwarz (2/4, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) hit a chopper to Miami shortstop Brandon Lopez, who failed to field the ball cleanly and rushed his throw to first base. Instead of a double play to empty the bases, Florida had runners on second and third with nobody out, trailing 2-1. Fourteen additional UF batters came to the plate in the frame, and by time the UM recorded the third out, the Gators led 12-2.
Here are three takeaways from Florida’s big opening-night victory:
1. It’s all about soul: Both starters ran into trouble in the game’s early innings. Florida sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore left multiple pitches up in the zone that allowed Miami to make solid contact and take an early 2-0. The Gators defense also did little to help Shore with two costly miscues resulting in both runs crossing the plate.. But in the third, fourth and fifth innings, Shore (5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R [2 ER], 6 K) settled in and kept the Canes off the board. Miami ace Andrew Suarez was clearly rattled by the errors and subsequent base runners in the fourth inning, getting chased down 5-2 and proving it’s not how you start but how well you manage the game when the going gets tough.
2. Making the most of an opportunity: Sophomore right fielder Ryan Larson (1/2, RBI, R) started 47 games this season but has spent most of the postseason on the bench despite his high average (.305) and solid defense. With a lefty in Suarez on the mound for Miami, O’Sullivan started Larson in place freshman RF Jeremy Vasquez (0/1, R, BB), who bats left-handed
3. Flashing some power: Sophomore first baseman Peter Alonso (1/3, 3 RBI, R) came within inches of achieving a home run in Omaha despite only a total of six homers having been hit over the last two years of the CWS. In Saturday’s opener between Virginia and Arkansas, two long balls made it over the fence. Alonso almost notched No. 3 for the day, but his smack hit off the wall and ultimately resulted in in a two-run double. Alonso and Tobias led the team by each driving in three runs on the evening.
Up next: The Gators will send sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (9-3, 3.96 ERA) to the mound against the Virginia Cavaliers, the alma mater of head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, on Monday as the teams square off at 8 p.m. in a winner’s bracket game.