Florida's Shore shuts down Virginia in elimination game
Gators score 10 or more runs for third time in four games
OMAHA, Neb. -- TD Ameritrade no longer is playing like a graveyard for College World Series hitters, but Florida is taking offensive production to an extreme.
The Gators staved off elimination Friday by beating Virginia, 10-5, the third time in four games that they've put double digits on the scoreboard. The last team that scored 10 or more runs three times in a single CWS was South Carolina en route to a runner-up finish in 2002. Even with a 1-0 loss to the Cavaliers on Monday, Florida is averaging 8.8 runs per game, more than double the other seven teams' combined average of 3.7.
"We have a tendency to have big innings," Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "In order to have big innings you have to have a consistent lineup, one through nine... I think we're getting a lot of contributions up and down the lineup, and it just allows us when we get things rolling in an inning to build some big innings."
Florida had a pair of big innings, scoring four times in the third and five times in the sixth. Seven different players scored a run, seven had a hit and six had an RBI. Junior shortstop Richie Martin, a first-round pick by the Athletics, singled once, doubled twice and drove in two runs. Freshman catcher Mike Rivera, who should be an early-rounder in 2017, contributed a single, double and two RBIs.
The Gators' first uprising came against Brewers supplemental first-rounder Nathan Kirby (5-3), who hadn't pitched since April 17 after straining the lat muscle behind his left (pitching) shoulder. Virginia planned on limiting Kirby to 60 pitches. He gave up only a walk to Martin in the first two innings while working at 90-93 mph with his fastball and relying heavily on a cutter/slider. But his command wasn't sharp and that caught up to him in the third, when he surrendered four runs on four hits and recorded just two outs.
"Florida is talented and they're going to make you pay," Cavaliers coach Brian O'Connor said. "They're on the barrel a lot and they're going to make you pay when you leave pitches over the middle of the plate... You know, he's (Kirby) certainly healthy and certainly he can build off that, that's for sure."
Kirby's counterpart for the Gators was much sharper. Sophomore right-hander Logan Shore (11-6), a potential first-rounder in the 2016 Draft, carried a 91-93 mph fastball into the seventh inning and kept Virginia off balance with his changeup. He gave up a run in the top of the first and then pitched shutout ball until the seventh, when he left with the bases loaded and reliever Bobby Poyner allowed all three inherited runners to score.
Shore earned his fourth NCAA tournament victory in four starts and became the first Gator ever to win two games at a single CWS.
"I could tell right off the bat they would be aggressive, which going into the game I wasn't really expecting," Shore said. "I thought they were going to take a little bit more, especially early in the game. But I tend to do a little better against teams that are more aggressive, having three pitches and throwing them in the zone, so that worked out for me today."
"He does as good a job as you'll see in changing speeds and locating," O'Connor said. "And he pitched a very, very good ballgame."
Florida (52-17) and Virginia (41-23) will meet for a third time on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the best-of-three CWS championship series. The Gators appear to be leaning toward sophomore right-hander Dane Dunning as their starter, while the Cavaliers may go with junior left-hander Brandon Waddell over sophomore righty Connor Jones. The latter projects as a 2016 first-rounder and has two more days of rest, but Waddell threw seven shutout innings against Florida on Monday.
Florida 10, Virginia 5
Texas Christian at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. ET (Texas Christian eliminated with loss)
Florida at Virginia, 3 p.m. or 8 p.m. ET (winner advances to finals)