Florida entered the third inning of its Friday game against Virginia without a single run against the Cavaliers in 11 innings in Omaha. The Gators left it with four — more than Virginia had previously allowed in the College World Series.
And with a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
The Cavaliers actually struck first in the game in the top of the initial inning. Leadoff man Adam Haseley singled, advanced on a sac bunt, and came home on a Matt Thaiss single. Nathan Kirby, pitching for the first time since April, made that slim lead stand for two innings. It fell in the third.
With one out, Dalton Guthrie and Ryan Larson got things going with a pair of singles that put runners on the corners. Harrison Bader scored Guthrie and advanced Larson with a ground out to second. Richie Martin plated Larson with a double, and then Josh Tobias got Martin home with a single. At this point, Kirby's day was done. JJ Schwarz came through with another single off of reliever Alec Bettinger to put runners on the corners again, and a Virginia passed ball allowed Tobias to come home. Peter Alonso would strand Schwarz on second, but the damage was done. Florida now had a 4-1 lead.
A couple of tidy innings ensued before Florida got rolling again. Bettinger hit Tobias to start the bottom of the sixth, and a Schwarz single and an Alonso walk loaded the bases with no outs. Buddy Reed couldn't get anyone home, as he grounded into a fielder's choice that had Tobias out at home. Mike Rivera could, as he singled home Schwarz. Bettinger walked home Alonso against his final batter in Guthrie, and a Larson fielder's choice got Reed home. Bader and Martin then had back-to-back singles that scored Guthrie and Larson. The frame one-upped the third with five runs, and the Gators now had a commanding 9-1 lead.
UVa kept fighting. In the seventh, the Cavs chased UF starter Logan Shore after he loaded the bases, and Bobby Poyner allowed all three inherited runners to score with a sac fly and a double. Florida added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh when a Rivera double plated Schwarz, and a Cavalier sac fly in the eighth gave the game its final score.
The teams will play again in a winner-takes-all battle to see who will go to the final. The winner of that one will face Vanderbilt, which advanced to the final by beating TCU.