Florida knocks off TCU, advances to 2017 College World Series Championship Series

By Adam Silverstein
June 24, 2017
Florida knocks off TCU, advances to 2017 College World Series Championship Series

Image Credit: UAA

The Florida Gators have been here before. It’s just that they have not exactly gotten the job done. No. 3 Florida baseball advanced to the 2017 College World Series Championship Series to play for the national championship for the third time in program history after knocking off the No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs in a semifinal elimination game on Saturday night.

The Gators, which have been far from perfect this postseason by dropping a game in all three of its phases, wound up playing a three-game series with the Horned Frogs in the CWS. Florida took the tournament opener 3-0, got blasted 9-2 in a semifinal game on Friday and bounced back with a 3-0 win in Saturday’s elimination game. With the victory, UF moves on to face the No. 4 LSU Tigers for the national title in a best-of-three series beginning Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

LSU will be the home team in Game 1, an advantage it received via coin flip due to both programs having one loss entering the championship series. There will be another coin flip before Game 3, if necessary.

Florida is 0-2 all-time in the CWS Championship Series, dropping all four of their games in the finals. UF was outscored 10-4 in two games by Texas in 2005 and 7-3 in two games against South Carolina in 2011. The Gators were the higher-ranked team in both series just as they will be this season.

Weather damaged the effectiveness of UF’s strong rotation during Super Regional play, and Saturday’s elimination game effectively took Florida’s ace out of the championship series barring a relief appearance or surprise short start if a Game 3 is played on Wednesday.

Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Faedo (7.1 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 11 K) was dominant again Saturday after posting a similar performance (7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 11 K) against TCU when CWS action began last Sunday. He has thrown 44 strikeouts and given up just one earned run over 27.1 innings in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, which amounts to a 0.33 ERA.

Instead, it will be sophomore RHP Brady Singer, who starred in a 5-1 win against Louisville (7.0 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 9 K), taking the hill for Game 1 of the championship series.

The Gators are 2-1 against the Tigers this season as the teams met in a three-game home series for Florida in late March. UF won 1-0 with Faedo starting and 8-1 behind Singer but got blasted 10-6 in a start by sophomore RHP Jackson Kowar. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan went with Kowar on Friday in the 9-2 loss to TCU; the second-year hurler struck out 11 but gave up four earned runs, though defense struggled mightily behind him.

Florida advanced Saturday by scattering three runs among the second, fifth and seventh innings. The insurance run came as a two-out single bounced off first base, a rare stroke of good luck for UF in postseason play.

The UF and LSU athletic programs have long been rivals and most certainly put together an interesting season. The Gators lead the Tigers 8-3 in head-to-head matchups among team sports this season, including a fourth-down goal line victory on the road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to conclude a football game played amid much controversy.

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