By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer
No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (46-16) advanced to the finals of the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2015 NCAA Tournament with an 8-2 win over the South Florida Bulls on Saturday evening. As such, the Gators are now one win away from hosting a Super Regional as part of the Round of 16.
Despite being the regional hosts and a top national seed, Florida played Saturday as the visiting team in McKethan Stadium. USF threatened early, taking advantage of a lead off walk in the bottom of the first inning to load the bases with two outs, but sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (7.0 IP, 4 H, BB, 8 K) notched a scoreless frame on 29 pitches and got into a groove, at one point retiring 14 consecutive batters.
UF sophomore center fielder Buddy Reed (2/5, HR, 2 RBI, R) broke the scoring ice with a two-run shot in the top of the third. His effort was matched by junior left fielder Harrison Bader (2/5, HR, 2 RBI, R), who cranked one out in the Gators’ next offensive frame.
Sophomore LHP Kirby Snead (1.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, K) took over for Puk in the bottom of the eighth inning, and junior right-handed pitcher Taylor Lewis (1.0 IP, H) tied the game up.
Here are three takeaways from Florida’s decisive victory: