Florida Gators baseball falls to Virginia 5-4, gets eliminated from 2015 College World Series

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 4 Florida Gators (52-18) baseball saw its season come to an end on Saturday, one game shy of advancing to the 2015 College World Series Championship Series as the Virginia Cavaliers edged UF 5-4 in a drama-filled game with multiple ties and lead changes.

Virginia jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but Florida sophomore first baseman Peter Alonso (1/3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) answered with a 429-foot two-run homer in the second inning, breaking his own record for the longest home run hit in the history of TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Cavs tied the game at two in the fourth inning, but junior left fielder Harrison Bader (4/5, HR, RBI, R) put the Gators up 3-2 with a solo shot in the top of the fifth, as UF was marked as the visitor on Saturday. It was the last time Florida would hold a lead this season as Virginia fought back to go up 4-3 in the bottom frame and broke a 4-4 tie with multiple hits in the seventh.

The loss is a difficult one for the Gators, which have advanced to the CWS four times in the last six seasons but never come back to Gainesville with a national title.

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Takeaways: Florida Gators upend Virginia 10-5, force rubber match for Championship Series berth

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (52-17) lived to fight another day, thumping the Virginia Cavaliers 10-5 on Friday afternoon to force a Saturday rubber match with a spot in the 2015 College World Series Championship Series on the line.

Virginia struck first, using two first-inning singles off sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) to take a 1-0 lead. But unlike Monday night, one run was not going to be enough to beat Florida.

The Gators had two bursts of offense, a four-run third inning to reclaim the lead and a five-run sixth inning to put the game out of reach, battling back in the contest to keep their season alive.

Florida has thrived under the pressure of must-win games in the 2015 postseason. The Gators won four straight elimination games in Hoover, Alabama, to win the 2015 SEC Tournament Championship out of the loser’s bracket and have now come out on top twice with the season on the line at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. UF will need to do it one more time on Saturday to advance to the CWS finals.

Here are three takeaways from UF’s important win:

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Takeaways: Florida Gators set College World Series home run records in 10-2 win over Miami

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

Two nights after being shutout while going 2-for-31 at the plate, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (51-17) launched four home runs and set a couple records in the process, staving off elimination with a 10-2 rout of the Miami Hurricanes in the 2015 College World Series.

Florida’s four homers were the most ever at in a CWS game at TD Ameritrade Park, which has hosted the event since 2011 and is located in Omaha, Nebraska. Three of the four blasts were also the longest ever hit in the stadium over the five-year span, respectfully measuring 421, 414 and 412 feet.

All nine Gators starters recorded hits Wednesday. The biggest of the night – in size, not importance – came off the bat of sophomore first baseman Peter Alonso (2/5, HR, 2 RBI, R), who launched the 421-foot home bomb.

Florida improved to 5-0 in postseason elimination games this campaign, winning its first CWS loser’s bracket game since 1996.

Here are three takeaways from UF’s explosive win:

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4 BITS: Florida Gators not pleased with O’Connell Center renovation cost projections, negotiating

1 » Florida Gators offensive tackle Roderick Johnson, whose career was deemed to be over after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis back in April, decided to get a second opinion on his condition in hopes of being able to build up his strength and return to the field. Unfortunately for Johnson, the second opinion he received was the same as the first – he needs to hang up his cleats. “[Spoke] with my family and trainers. [I] agree 100% with the professional doctors so Im making my decision on my own to walk away from this game,” he wrote Monday on his Twitter account. “I’m making this decision because I would hate for my mom to see me in a wheel chair. [Mom you’re] my blessing to start a new chapter.”

Johnson, who will remain at Florida on a medical hardship scholarship and is expected to remain with the Gators as a student coach, later added that he now feels like “all the pressure is off my shoulder[s].” Hopefully Johnson will be able to stay involved in the game off football and receive his degree, still allowing him to have a bright future despite this setback.

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Takeaways: Gators’ bats go cold, Florida falls into CWS loser’s bracket after 1-0 loss to Virginia

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

The Virginia Cavaliers shut down and shut out No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (50-17) on Monday in the second round of the 2015 College World Series, ending UF’s 10-game winning streak and handing it a loss (1-0) for the first time in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Runs were hard to come by for both the Gators and Cavaliers late Monday in a game that did not start until 10:09 p.m. ET. Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (5.1 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 5 K) allowed only one hit through his first five innings but ran into trouble in the sixth, giving up three straight singles to load the bases. Junior right-hand pitcher Taylor Lewis (1.1 IP, H, 2 BB) forced a fly out that resulted in a sacrifice run, the game’s only score, to cross the plate.

Virginia LHP Brandon Waddell worked Florida, retiring 12 straight batters while holding the Gators to only two hits into the eighth inning. The Gators had runners at the corners with no outs in that frame but saw RHP Josh Sborz (2.0 IP) work his way out of the jam.

Florida, which accumulated 98 runs over its 10-game win streak, went a combined 2-for-31 at the plate. The Gators’ 1-5 hitters combined to go 0-for-17 with two walks.

Here are three takeaways from the UF’s excruciating loss:
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Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball crushes Miami 15-3 in 2015 College World Series opener

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.

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Nine Florida Gators selected in 2015 MLB Draft

The Florida Gators baseball team saw nine of its current players selected over the last three days during the 40-round 2015 MLB Draft, though it is unknown as of press time how many of those drafted players will leave the program to turn professional.

Junior shortstop Richie Martin was the first Florida player drafted when he was chosen by the Oakland Athletics with the No. 20 overall pick in the first round.

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FOUR BITS: Florida Gators RHP Lauren Haeger wins Honda Sports Award for softball

1 » Already the 2015 USA Softball Player of the Year (first in program history), Most Outstanding Player from the 2015 Women’s College World Series and the 2015 SEC Pitcher of the Year, Florida Gators right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger added to her trophy case on Wednesday by being named the 2015 Honda Sport Award winner for softball. The honor makes Haeger a finalist for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the 2015 Honda Cup. She is the second Florida softball player to win the award (Kelsey Bruder, 2011), 18th overall Gators athlete since 1978 and second this year (Kytra Hunter, gymnastics).

Haeger, the second player (Babe Ruth) with 70+ home runs and 70+ wins on either the college (baseball, softball) or professional (MLB) level, smacked 71 homers and won 73 games over her four-year career at Florida. She finished the 2015 campaign with a 32-2 record and 1.23 ERA with 25 complete games in 35 starts and 214 strikeouts in 222.1 innings pitched.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Florida Gators RHP Lauren Haeger wins Honda Sports Award for softball

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