One more run.
The SEC ended up being one run away from a shot at having both teams in the College World Series finals, securing the national title for the fifth time in seven years. But the Florida Gators never could push that run across and lost, 5-4, in an elimination game against the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday. That means the Vanderbilt Commodores -- the reigning baseball national champions -- will take on Virginia next week for the title.
There was nothing particularly terrible about Florida's performance Saturday night. The Gators left seven men on base, to six for Virginia. Florida pitching did allow five runs, and only one team to score five runs in a game at Omaha this year has lost -- Virginia, on Friday night. But dig below the somewhat flawed stat of runs allowed, and Florida actually outhit Virginia on Saturday and had the same number of walks. Harrison Bader was 4-for-5 with a home run, and Peter Alonso also hit a ball out of the park. Sometimes, you just come up short.
Florida had a good run this year. The Gators almost won the SEC East in the regular season, did win the SEC tournament and were the last team eliminated from the College World Series before the finals. None of that gets you a trophy or even remembered, but simply getting to Omaha is an accomplishment for any baseball team. To come as close as they did to playing for a national title, something that Florida has never won despite three decades of pretty consistent success on the diamond, is only a disappointment in comparison to what might have been.
And as one streak of futility continues, another could end next week. The infamous Curse of '55 is on the line. The ACC has not won a national title in baseball since 1955, something that baseball fans of all other conferences should fervently hope to continue. If not, expect to be bombarded with offers of a special commemorative edition of
ACC Pravda Baseball America. Vanderbilt, it's up to you.