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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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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Back in Florida, assistant Randy Shannon ready to lead Gators back to championship status

More Florida Gators assistant features: Terrell Williams | Geoff Collins | Tim Skipper

The last time Randy Shannon was in Gainesville, Florida, he showed his displeasure with then-Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer for, in Shannon’s eyes, running up the score in a 26-3 win. A lightning-fast handshake at midfield became the buzz of college football, but it was just the start of a memorable season for Florida.

Six-and-a-half years later, Shannon is the one donning the orange and blue for new head coach Jim McElwain as they look to help lead the Gators back to the success the program last realized during that 2008 season, when Florida won its second national title in three years under Meyer.

Named the Gators’ associate head coach, co-coordinator (whatever that means) and linebackers coach, Shannon was able to make a jump to Florida from Arkansas by sheer happenstance. One year after Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema hired Shannon, he began insisting that his assistants sign a no-compete clause restricting them from leaving Arkansas and going to another Southeastern Conference program. Shannon’s contract did not include that clause, so he picked up McElwain’s phone call and took advantage of a better opportunity to succeed, this one in his home state.

“It’s just another opportunity to work with some great people. I had a great time at Arkansas; we did some great things at Arkansas. It’s just another step of being with guys like Coach Mac, Coach [Doug] Nussmeier, Coach [Geoff] Collins and other guys on the staff, getting on the same page and having excitement,” Shannon explained.

“Being at Florida, there’s a ton of programs in the country but there’s only a few programs in the country like Florida. Just to be honest with you. You think about what Florida has accomplished football, basketball, track and field, baseball. If you look at it for the last couple of years, they’ve probably been in the hunt for the national championship or won it in [each of those sports in] the last six or seven years, and I’m not even counting gymnastics and other sports.

“When you have a program like that, and you have an athletic director that believes in other sports accomplishing championships like football, that excites you as a person. Sometimes as a person you don’t want to ever stay the same and get comfortable with a situation. Being at Florida, you can never get comfortable because you always have to live on the edge. You always have to have the mind that you want to win the championship, not just settle for second.”

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Source: Randy Shannon to join Florida Gators staff as linebackers coach

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain continues to fill out his first staff with impressive hires and has come to an agreement with Arkansas associate head coach and linebackers coach Randy Shannon to join his staff as an assistant.

As first reported by 247Sports.com, Shannon will take over as Florida’s linebackers coach, a position vacated when McElwain decided to not to retain Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. It is not known whether Shannon will have other responsibilities, though the positions of associate head coach and recruiting coordinator are both believed to be open on UF’s staff. A source confirmed Shannon’s hiring to OnlyGators.com early Wednesday afternoon.

A Miami, Florida, native and veteran coach who spent the first 20 years of his career in Miami (17 with the Hurricanes, three with the Dolphins), Shannon served as a defensive coordinator (2001-06) and head coach (2007-10) of the Canes before being let go. He took over as linebackers coach at TCU in 2012 and moved over to Arkansas in 2013, adding the role of associate head coach.

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Steve Spurrier, Alex Brown set record straight about 2000 Florida-Miami fight

During the latest ESPN 30 for 30 special, “The U Part 2,” former Miami Hurricanes tight end Jeremy Shockey, while discussing a fight between his team and the Florida Gators on Bourbon Street ahead of the 2001 Sugar Bowl, quoted then-Florida head coach Steve Spurrier as conceding that the Hurricanes beat the Gators both on and off the field during the week, which ended with Miami pulling off a 37-20 victory.

“I remember their head coach, Spurrier, coming up to me after the game saying, ‘You guys definitely deserved it. We got our ass beat off the field and on,'” Shockey said.

Well, suffice to say, Spurrier was none too pleased with that retelling of history and made it a point to set the record straight during his 2014 Independence Bowl press conference on Friday. (By the way, South Carolina will take on Miami on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.)

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The Fastbreak: Rodriguez explodes late, sends Miami to 69-67 upset of No. 8 Florida Gators

It all came crashing down for the No. 8 Florida Gators (1-1) on Monday as the Miami Hurricanes (2-0) exploded on a late 18-1 run and ultimately used 20 points scored by a single player in the final 6:47 of the contest to defeat their hosts 69-67 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

With the loss, the Gators ended their program-record 33-game home winning streak, which was the second-longest active streak in the nation and dated back to Nov. 11, 2012. Florida also lost its 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents that dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Monday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Florida and Miami were tied at 65 when redshirt junior guard Eli Carter rounded the foul line and drove to the rack, converting a layup to put the Gators ahead 67-65 with 1:03 to play. Hurricanes point guard Angel Rodriguez missed a three on the ensuing possession, but Miami got the ball back, called a timeout and set up for another shot. Rodriguez squared off with Florida sophomore PG Kasey Hill, crossed him over beyond the arc and drained a dagger three to push UM ahead with 18 seconds to play. Carter was called for an offensive charging foul (taken by Rodriguez) on UF’s next possession, Rodriguez made 1-of-2 foul shots after he was sent to the line, and an off-balance three shot by Gators junior G Michael Frazier II clanged off the rim at the buzzer.

Significant stretch: Erasing a double-digit lead Florida held most of the game, Miami erupted on an 18-1 run late in the second half – courtesy of four-straight treys, including three-in-a-row by Rodriguez – and took a three-point lead with 3:25 to play following four-straight made foul shots. A big three-pointer by Gators redshirt senior center Jon Horford ended the long Canes run and tied the game, with a second three by Horford moments later keeping UF in the contest.

Prominent players: Rodriguez made five threes – including the game winner – and scored 20 total points in the final 6:47 of the contest. He finished with a game-high 24 on 7-of-14 shooting, draining 5-of-8 from long range. For Florida, Horford made two late threes that kept the Gators in the contest following the devastating Canes run. He finished 5-of-9 from the field (3-for-6 beyond the arc, 4-for-4 from the charity stripe) for 17 points, adding seven boards to his stat line.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » The Fastbreak: Rodriguez explodes late, sends Miami to 69-67 upset of No. 8 Florida Gators

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Gameday: No. 8 Florida Gators vs. Miami

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU (Mark Jones, Stan Heath)
Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 136/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jim Larranaga
Record: 1-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast

Odds: Florida -8.5 | O/U 130


Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Story: Dorian Finney-Smith suffers hairline fractures in hand, cleared to play
Notebook: Dillon Graham decides to transfer

MUST-READ PRIMER: Can the Gators keep it going with a rebuilt starting five?

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Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith diagnosed with hairline fracture in non-shooting hand

Updated on Sunday at 11 p.m.

No. 7 Florida Gators basketball (1-0) may be without the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year for its Monday showdown with the Miami Hurricanes (1-0) as the program announced Saturday that redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his left, non-shooting hand.

Finney-Smith suffered the injury – initially believed to be a sprain – early in Florida’s 68-45 win over William & Mary on Friday. After heading to the locker room for tests and a wrap, he returned to the court and led the Gators with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds, a steal and an assist.

X-rays were done after the game, but the results were not released until Saturday. On Sunday, head coach Billy Donovan noted that Finney-Smith has “two hairline fractures on two fingers,” though the injury should not affect his ability to play if he feels up to it.

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