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Virginia lefty Waddell shines at CWS

Fifth-round pick of Pirates continues terrific postseason with gem in win over Florida

OMAHA, Neb. -- There's something about being in Omaha that brings out the best in Brandon Waddell.

The Virginia left-hander turned in yet another postseason gem on Monday night, tossing seven-plus shutout innings to lead his Cavaliers to a 1-0 victory over Florida in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park.

Virginia remains undefeated in Omaha and would have to lose two straight games not to advance to the Finals.

"Certainly a tremendous outing by Brandon Waddell. I think that was really the story of the game and why we're sitting up here right now was his performance," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "Certainly saved his best outing of the year for a really, really important time."

Waddell, the Pirates' fifth-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, was in complete control against the Gators for much of the night. He allowed two hits -- one an infield single -- and struck out three and, although he walked three and hit a batter, he faced two batters over the minimum between the second and sixth innings. Waddell induced 10 groundouts and recorded seven fly-ball outs.

"He just did a really good job mixing his pitches," Florida second baseman Dalton Guthrie said. "He was throwing changeups and curveballs in weird counts and he wasn't missing. We just didn't make the adjustment, but he kept putting pressure on us and he did a great job all night."

Waddell tired in the eighth, issuing a leadoff walk and surrendering just his second hit of the night and was removed after 105 pitches. Virginia reliever Josh Sborz recorded three straight outs -- including a fielder's choice comebacker that knocked off his glove.

"It was basically all reaction and from there I got lucky throwing it to second," said Sborz, a second-round pick by the Dodgers. "After I got that first out and that guy didn't score, I just tried to get the double play. And from there it just kind of played out."

Monday's outing was just the most recent big-time performance by Waddell, who has been at his best in the NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder is 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA in nine postseason starts, including a 0.72 ERA in three starts in Omaha.

Waddell is only the second pitcher in the last 25 years to throw three College World Series starts of at least seven innings and allow one earned run or less.

"I'm just happy that I was able to go out there and go seven innings and not give up a run, kind of keep our team in the ballgame," Waddell said. "That was kind of my goal going into it."

Last year's complete game against Vanderbilt in the finals put Waddell on the map nationally, but he struggled throughout the course of the year. The lefty posted just a 4.58 ERA in 14 starts before postseason play, but possesses three solid pitches -- fastball, slider and changeup -- and the experience needed to turn in performances such as Monday's.

"Sometimes you've just got to credit the pitcher," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We ran across a really good pitcher that located his pitches tonight and didn't give us a whole lot. So I'm going to give all the credit to Waddell. He pitched really good tonight."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.