When does florida baseball play again ? Florida baseball will begin College World Series play on Friday against Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN) at Charles Schwab Park in Omaha, Neb., seeking its second national title in school history.
UF (50-13) is making its 13th MCWS trip. The Gators won their lone national title, in 2017, when the dominant pitching duo of Alex Faedo and Brady Singer led UF to the final series, where they swept LSU in two games.
Could it happen again? Here’s two reasons why the Gators will win the MCWS, and two reasons why they won’t
Gators pitching has come around at the right time
Florida posted a 1.63 ERA in Regional play and 2.00 ERA in Super Regional play. The Gators have posted two shutouts in their last three games, with a 6-0 win over Texas Tech to clinch the Gainesville Regional and a 4-0 win over South Carolina to clinch the Gainesville Super Regional.
Mound mastery:Florida Gators baseball starter Hurston Waldrep delivers a postseason start to remember
Power surge:Longballs power Florida baseball to Super Regional win over South Carolina
Junior righty starter Hurston Waldrep (9-3, 4.15 ERA, 142 strikeouts in 93.1 IP) is locating his split-change for strikes and has been dominant of late, going 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in his last two postseason starts. Waldrep has struck out 25 over his last 15 innings, with just four walks during that span.
In addition to Waldrep, freshman lefty Cade Fisher has stepped up as a spot starter and out of the bullpen with nine scoreless innings in his last two postseason appearances. Sophomore closer Brandon Neely has been solid on the back end for the Gators with three saves in his last three postseason chances. Neely’s 13 saves overall is tied for sixth nationally.
UF baseball is in a favorable bracket
As the No. 2 national seed, Florida’s four-team bracket includes No. 7 national seed Virginia (10 RPI), TCU (25 RPI) and Oral Roberts (62 RPI).
Compare that on the other side of the bracket which includes No. 1 national seed Wake Forest (1 RPI), No. 5 national seed LSU (4 RPI), No. 8 national seed Stanford (16 RPI) and Tennessee (12 RPI), and UF (3 RPI) appears to have an easier path to the final series.
Surprise teams can emerge, though, and Virginia could present an initial early tough test. The Cavaliers lead the nation in batting average at .335 on the season.
The bigger ballpark in Omaha doesn’t favor UF’s slugging approach
A number of talented, slugging Florida teams in the recent past have struggled in MCWS play due to the bigger dimensions at Charles Schwab Park. It’s 335 feet down the left and right field line, 375 feet in the power alleys and 408 feet in dead center field.
When the winds blows in, home runs are hard to come by. The Gators struggled with the wind blowing in at Condron Family Ballpark in the first two games of the Gainesville Regional, scoring just seven runs in its first two games.
UF’s 129 home runs ranks tied for fourth nationally (with Wake Forest, another MCWS team). The Gators belted three home runs in their 5-4 win over South Carolina in Game 1 of the Super Regional but scored four runs without a home run in their 4-0 Game 2 win over the Gamecocks.
“We’ve proven we can hit home runs and that type of thing, but we’ve also proven if we need to, if the wind is blowing in, we have the ability to run the bases and play the short game,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.
Nerves will impact UF players who are making first trip to Omaha
Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan and his staff have experience playing in Omaha. But because this is UF’s first trip to the MCWS since 2018, none of the players on the roster have the experience on playing on college baseball’s biggest stage.
What will happen when adversity strikes in front of more than 20,000 fans? A big inning surrendered by a pitcher. A misplay in the field. A cold stretch at the plate. Florida doesn’t traditionally travel as well to Omaha as other college fanbases, such as LSU. A potential final series between SEC rivals could present a road atmosphere at the stadium. Those are potential factors working against the Gators in the MCWS.
Florida will make it through its bracket and reach the MCWS Finals. But the Gators will run into a buzzsaw in talent-rich LSU. Led by standout pitcher Paul Skenes and star hitters Dylan Crews and Tommy White, LSU will avenge its 2017 final series loss to UF and sweep the Gators in the first two games of the three-game series.
Florida to Face LSU in 2023 Men’s College World Series Finals
Florida will take on LSU in the 2023 Men’s College World Series Finals, creating a rematch of the 2017 National Championship between the Gators and Tigers.
In a rematch of Florida’s lone National Championship victory, the No. 2 Gators (53-15) will take on the No. 5 LSU Tigers (52-16) in the final round of the 2023 Men’s College World Series as determined Thursday night.
The series will begin with Game 1 on Saturday, June 24 at 7 p.m. ET. A best-of-three playoff, Game 2 is set for Sunday, June 25 at 3 p.m. ET and, if necessary, Game 3 is scheduled for Monday, June 26 at 7 p.m. ET.
While pressed by Virginia, Oral Roberts and TCU, Florida exited bracket one of the World Series undefeated after defeating each program by one run.
A three-run rally in the ninth inning pushed the Gators past the Cavaliers in game one, four runs scored in a late 13-at-bat stretch by Oral Roberts gave Florida a legitimate scare that it overcame in game two, and a go-ahead score in the ninth inning against TCU on Wednesday secured UF its spot in the National Championship.
LSU advanced from bracket two following two rematches with Wake Forest after the programs first met in round two. Thursday’s game was necessary due to the double-elimination structure of the tournament, and the Tigers took it in extra innings via Tommy White’s walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th.
The 2023 Men’s National Championship will mark Florida’s fourth appearance in program history. The Gators defeated the Tigers to lift the trophy for the first time in 2017.
Learning its opponent for the upcoming National Championship was not the only news UF baseball received on Thursday.
Florida’s day began with the transfer acquisition of Alabama infielder and 2022 Freshman All-American Colby Shelton. A third base/shortstop prospect from Lithia (Fla.) Bloomingdale, Shelton’s 25 home runs in 2022 handily set a single-season record for Crimson Tide freshmen.
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