OMAHA, Neb — Austin Langworthy knew he hit it well but he’d never hit a home run to the opposite field in a park like TD Ameritrade so he put his head down and hustled to first. The ball kept carrying before it found the left field foul pole for a home run.
The Gators came into the College World Series with 50 home runs on the season but they added two more to power past Louisville 5-1 and advance to the bracket two championship game.
“That was a little different than running around the bases in Gainesville or anywhere else,” Langworthy said. “It’s a big crowd and to get it out the other way? That’s pretty cool. That’s actually my first time hitting it the other way on a big field.”
Before that McClure had baffled Florida’s batters. He retired the first seven batters he faced including three strikeouts before allowing the home run. He even struck out the side in the third minus the one fastball up to Langworthy.
On the other side of the mound Brady Singer was trying to top Alex Faedo’s performance from two days ago. Singer was throwing gas, touching 95 and living 92-94 with a heavy sink. He struck out two in the first and retired the first five batters he faced before giving up a single. 10 batters would come up to the plate before Louisville would get another hit.
“One of the things I said in the dugout is we gotta score some runs for this guy. This guy has been pitching his heart out the whole year and he only has seven wins to show for it,” O’Sullivan told Gator Country after the game. “That was kind of the motivation offensively for us.”
While Singer diced the Cardinals the Gator bats kept hacking away. Nelson Maldonado extended the fourth inning with a two out walk. Jonathan India sent a slider the other way for a single that moved Maldonado to third. That brought Deacon Liput up.
Liput struggled for most of the season but swung the bat well in the Gainesville Super Regional. O’Sullivan saw that and moved Liput up from the eight spot to sixth for the World Series. It paid of Tuesday.
Liput fell behind 1-2. It’s a pitcher’s count. McClure could have thrown anything; waste a fastball or slider in the dirt, elevate a fastball to set up the slider on 2-2. Instead, like he did with Langworthy earlier, he tried to sneak a fastball by. Liput was right on time and golfed the low offering into the right field bleachers for his second home run of the NCAA Tournament.
“That was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had playing the game of baseball,” Liput said. “You dream about just coming to this tournament. To be able to do something like hit a home run is just awesome.”
The game moved quickly through the middle innings before Singer started running out of gas in the seventh. Brendan McKay doubled to start the frame but Singer responded by getting the next two out. Colin Lyman singled to score McKay and end the shutout and Singer had a hard time shaking it off. He gave up a single to Josh Stowers and walked Jake Snider on five pitches.
“I’ve taken him out of innings before and he has not been happy,” O’Sullivan said when asked about his one and only trip to the mound to talk to Singer on Tuesday night. “I said, ‘this is your game’ finish up the seventh and we’ll piece together the rest.”
O’Sullivan left Singer in but he quickly fell behind 2-0 to Logan Taylor. Mike Rivera went out to the mound. He told Singer to calm down, throw the ball down the middle and pitch to contact.
“I actually told him he’s going to get a ground ball to shortstop,” Rivera said after the game.
Singer’s next pitch after that meeting was a strike. The next one, a ground ball to shortstop to strand three runners.
Florida went to Nick Horvath in the eighth inning. It was the first time Horvath has pitched since the SEC Tournament. The lefty got two outs before giving up a single and the Gators rode Tyler Dyson the rest of the way. The freshman didn’t allow a hit to the four batters he faced to secure the Gators second win of the CWS.
At 2-0 the Gators advance to the bracket championship. They will have Wednesday and Thursday off and won’t be back on the field until Friday night when they will face the winner of Louisville-TCU. They still need to be beat twice to be eliminated from the tournament and plan to start sophomore Jackson Kowar Friday.