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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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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Takeaways: No. 4 Florida Gators baseball advances to Super Regional with 2-1 win over FAU

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

For the first time since 2012, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (47-16) has returned to the Super Regionals after defeating the Florida Atlantic Owls 2-1 in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2015 NCAA Tournament behind a strong outing from freshman right-handed pitcher Alex Faedo (6.0 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 6 K).

UF trailed on Sunday at McKethan Stadium for the first time this weekend when FAU took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Senior third baseman Josh Tobias (3/4, R) scored Florida’s first run when Florida Atlantic second baseman Stephen Kerr booted a ground ball hit by freshman catcher JJ Schwarz (1/4, RBI). In the sixth inning, Schwarz collected a legitimate RBI on a single to left field that scored junior shortstop Richie Martin (0/3, R, BB).

The Gators were one inning away from winning the regional before lightning in the area stopped play for 67 minutes. The delay ended an impressive relief outing from senior left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner (2.0 IP, 2 H, 4 K). Junior RHP Taylor Lewis (1.0 IP, H) successfully closed out the ninth, punching Florida’s ticket to the Super Regional, which it will play in for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.

Here are three takeaways from the Gators’ big win:

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Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball blows a lead vs. Arkansas, puts national seed at risk

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

The No. 5 seed Arkansas Razorbacks to score three runs in the top of the ninth inning to deliver a crushing 7-6 loss to the No. 4 seed Florida Gators (40-16), in the second round of the 2015 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, early Thursday morning.

Arkansas’ come-from-behind victory, which occurred past 1:30 a.m. local time, puts Florida’s chances of postseason success at serious risk. The Gators have been dumped into the loser’s bracket of the SEC Tournament – and consequently will play an elimination game less than 12 hours after their last completed – and may be at risk of losing the national seed they worked so hard for at the end of the regular season.

Here are three takeaways from the shocking early-morning loss:

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Takeaways: Florida seniors shine vs. Auburn, set Gators baseball up for postseason, national seed

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 7 Florida Gators baseball (40-15, 19-11 SEC) closed out the 2015 regular season with a series win over the Auburn Tigers. It marked the fourth series in a row in which Florida dropped its opener (4-1), the third straight in which it recovered to win the next two games (4-3, 3-1).

UF ultimately finished in fourth place in the league behind LSU (20-8), Vanderbilt (20-10) and Texas A&M (18-10). Nevertheless, the Gators are well-positioned to earn a national seed and host a regional in the 2015 NCAA Tournament due to their high RPI (No. 6), nonconference strength of schedule (No. 13) and recent series win over VU.

The Aggies (No. 7 RPI) and Commodores (No. 11 RPI) will both be entering the 2015 SEC Tournament with the goal of jumping Florida in the national seed pecking order.

Here are five takeaways from the final series of the 2015 regular season:

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Takeaways: Pitching, freshmen keep Florida Gators baseball steady through SEC opener

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

Over the last two weeks, No. 3 Florida Gators baseball (18-3, 2-1 SEC) split a home-and-home series, cleaned up at home against two non-conference opponents and won its first Southeastern Conference series of the season.

Florida came up short in its first major road test of the season, falling 4-3 to the No. 14 UCF Knights in Orlando on March 4, though the Gators regrouped and won the rematch 10-2 in Gainesville the following evening. Florida then went on to sweep the Maine Black Bears in its final non-conference weekend series (5-0, 6-1, 5-3) and avoided any midweek letdown with a pair of wins against the Fairfield Stags (8-7, 6-1).

The Tennessee Volunteers dominated Florida for eight innings in the Gators’ SEC home opener and eventually claimed a 6-3 win, but UF captured the series with a 8-3 victory on Saturday and 9-4 rubber-match win on Sunday.

Here are five takeaways from the last two weeks:

1. Lefty longmen provide a big boost: Much has been said of the Gators’ strong weekend rotation, but Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has made great use of the versatility offered by his southpaws including senior Bobby Poyner (0-1, 3.13) and junior Danny Young (1-0, 0.63). On Saturday against Tennessee, Poyner (4.0 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 K) relieved sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, BB, 8 K) in the sixth and stayed on for the remaining four frames to collect his second save of the season. Young (5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 7 K) notched a career-high seven strikeouts in five dominant innings of long relief to earn the win in UF’s win over UT on Sunday. Poyner and Young’s ability to go the distance at any time in a game should help O’Sullivan keep his bullpen arms fresh this season.

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Florida baseball sweeps, moves to No. 2 in nation

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

Florida Gators baseball (10-1) went a perfect 4-0 on the week, sweeping the Florida Atlantic Owls and Stony Brook Seawolves by a combined score of 31-13 as head coach Kevin O’Sullivan notched the 300th win of his career on Friday night.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore’s stellar outing on Friday night was the first of three quality starts from the Gators’ rotation in the series against the Seawolves, and opposing pitchers struggled to retire senior third baseman Josh Tobias as he tied a school record with eight consecutive hits over the weekend.

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Weekend Wrap: Gators swimming wins SEC title, Florida baseball bests Miami, softball undefeated

Winning a league title, earning an important series victory, maintaining a long winning streak and remaining undefeated, Florida Gators athletic programs accomplished plenty over the last weekend. Let’s take a look at all of it in the Weekend Wrap.

Thrice is nice

Florida men’s swimming captured a third-straight Southeastern Conference Championship over the weekend, using three individual event titles won in Auburn, Alabama, to catapult the program to its 36th SEC Championship.

UF (1,314.5) edged Georgia (1,134.5) and Auburn (1,084.0) for the crown with freshman Caeleb Dressel (100-yard butterfly); sophomore Mitch D’Arrigo (500-yard freestyle); and the foursome of senior Dan Wallace, junior Pawel Werner, redshirt sophomore Nicholas Alexiou and D’Arrigo (800-yard freestyle relay) bringing home individual SEC titles. The relay team set a league and school record with a time of 6:12.85.

The Gators’ women finished third but also picked up four individual titles via junior Natalie Hinds (100-yard freestyle), freshman Amelia Maughan (200-yard freestyle), redshirt freshman Theresa Michalak (200-yard individual medley) and junior Jessica Thielmann (1,650-yard freestyle). Hinds set a program mark with a time of 47.26 seconds.

In total, Florida over the weekend added automatic qualifications for 25 events in the forthcoming 2015 NCAA Championships.

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