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

By Adam Silverstein
June 21, 2015

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.

Florida kicked off the 2015 campaign with high expectations and preseason top 10 rankings across the board. It finished fourth overall in the Southeastern Conference during the regular season and rebounded from an opening-game loss to Arkansas in the 2015 SEC Tournament to win four straight elimination games and claim the tournament’s championship.

As the No. 4 overall national seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, UF hosted the Gainesville Regional and Super Regional, going undefeated (5-0) while outscoring opponents 53-12 to advance to the CWS.

In Omaha, Florida picked up a pair of wins against Miami, outscoring its in-state rivals 25-5 (15-3, 10-2). Between those victories, the Gators’ bats went cold against Cavaliers starter Brandon Waddell, and UF found itself on the short end of a 1-0 decision with its third shutout of the season forcing it into the loser’s bracket. In a Friday rematch with UVA, Florida bounced back with a 10-5 win to force a rubber match for a spot in the CWS Championship Series.

The Gators tied a CWS record when they scored 11 runs in the fourth inning on June 13 against the Hurricanes. In Wednesday’s contest against UM, UF broke three stadium records when it hit four home runs in the contest, including most in a game and longest in the park’s history. Florida, which finished with six home runs in the CWS, can also claim the most double-digit run games (three) and most runs scored (35) by any team at the park.

UF will likely be preseason favorites to return to Omaha in 2016. The Gators’ only significant holes to fill will be the departures of Bader, junior shortstop Richie Martin (0/5) and senior third baseman Josh Tobias (0/3, BB).

Here are three takeaways from Florida’s season-ending loss:

1. Missed opportunities: Despite having four lead off hitters reach safely, the Gators went a meager 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. UF had its chances, but couldn’t come up with the big hits aside from the two homers.

2. Matchup inconsistencies: Sophomore right-handed pitcher Dane Dunning (4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, K) was pulled in the fifth inning when lefty Matt Thaiss, who homered in the first inning, was due up with a runner on first base. Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan brought in sophomore left-handed pitcher Kirby Snead (0.1 IP, 2 H, ER) for the matchup, but Snead gave up a single to Thaiss and stayed on to pitch to righty Kenny Towns, who doubled two runs home to give Virginia a 4-3 lead. With a full bullpen available, it was surprising to see O’Sullivan not make a second pitching change for a right-on-right matchup against Towns.

3. Disappointing exits for Martin and Tobias: Two of UF’s best infielders this season had rough final nights at the plate to end their Orange and Blue careers. Bader and sophomore first baseman Peter Alonso (1/3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB), who hit the longest homer in park history at 429 feet after setting the previous record at 421 feet earlier in the week, did their best to fill in offensively for the outgoing duo.


  1. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    OVERALL great year for the GATOR BOYZ. Preety good start for DUNNING But, our BULLPEN Let us down. Snead, and Lewis did not do their job and let go of a winnable game. We were the better team but, did not capatilize on the opportunities given. Tough loss and upsetting way to lose. We had a great chance to win the whole thing. Now I’m pulling for VANDY to REPEAT at least an SEC TEAM would win.

    PS I was upset that the BULLPEN who had helped us throughout the year to advance let us down. Next Year we have a great shot again but, I really feel we let one go and had a great chance to beat VANDY…

    • Ken (CA) says:

      You are so right. I was sure our offense would rebound after having seen him once already, and they did pretty well, although missed a couple of clutch opportunities, but I never would have expected our bullpen to show so poorly.

  2. SaraGator says:

    That’s too bad… but it is what it is. Beginning of SEC Tournament, i didn’t think this team would get this far. In my eyes this young team overachieved.

    Sully will win the big one. He’s due…

  3. scroud says:

    Disapointing loss.
    Also, it was ridiculous that with a man on first and no outs the guy (sorry I don’t know his name) batting gets hit. He heads to first base till the umpire says he didn’t try to avoid the hit. Then he hits into a double play. So we go from two on and no outs to no one on and two outs. That was bogus and changed the outcome of the game.

  4. Wes says:

    Really proud of this team overall. Tough game, but they fought through the loser’s bracket really well. Looking forward to next year!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      yep. they will have to replace Bader and the left side of the infield, but this is going to be a really good team next year overall, and this experience will only make them better.

  5. SW Fl Joe says:

    I hope somebody teaches this team how to bunt and how to hit sac flies
    Swinging for the fences is not always the best use of an at bat.

  6. Jeff b says:

    Missed opportunities… Left many runners on base early in the game… BS umpire call regarding HBP…Bullpen let us down… Sad ending to a very good year. So close but yet so far.

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