Bader-ade: Gators sparked by Cards' pick
OMAHA, Neb. -- Harrison Bader made it clear four pitches into Wednesday's College World Series game that Florida had no desire to see its season end.
The Gators left fielder launched a leadoff home run to center field and went 2-for-4 to lead No. 4 Florida to a 10-2 win over in-state rival No. 5 Miami at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Gators advanced to face Virginia on Friday, and they will have to beat the Cavaliers -- who edged the Gators, 1-0, on Monday -- in two straight games to reach the Finals.
"The first at-bat is kind of something where you just want to give an at-bat for your team, see as many pitches as you can," said Bader, the Cardinals' third-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. "Wasn't really trying to do too much, honestly. Wasn't trying to do anything at all but just try to barrel something up, and I was lucky, it kind of jumped for me. It definitely felt good to get out to an early start."
Bader also began a fifth-inning rally with a double, the first of five hits in the four-run frame that essentially ended the game and gave Florida new life after a tough 1-0 loss to Virginia on Monday.
"The biggest thing was it was a fresh start, and at this point in the game, you are fighting for your life," Bader said. "So you have to lay it out there, every pitch, every inning. That's what we did, and that was what our approach was and it worked out for us tonight."
Wednesday was yet another standout performance for Bader who, while sporting a solid batting average (.278), has provided power (three homers) and clutch hits (11 RBIs) throughout the NCAA Tournament.
He's also continued to play flawless defense; the 6-foot, 195-pound outfielder has made just one error over the last two years after committing five as a freshman.
Bader's junior season has been different than his first two in Gainesville, Fla. He led the team in hitting as a freshman (.312) and sophomore (.337), but he hit just three homers combined in that time. He's blossomed into a complete hitter this season, batting .289 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs.
Bader said he didn't change anything in his approach and that the higher home run total is a byproduct of maturing as a player.
"It's important to realize it's my third year in the league, I'm more experienced, have more of an understanding how I'm going to get pitched," Bader said. "I'm just totally committed to [my approach] and just let the results take care of themselves."