Florida, the national 2- seed, beat TCU 3-2 at Charles Schwab Field on Wednesday afternoon to advance to the best-of-three championship series at the Men's College World Series for the fourth time in program history.
Starting pitcher Jac Caglianone pitched 4 1/3 innings before UF head coach Kevin O'Sullivan went to the bullpen to finish off the Horned Frogs, who were eliminated.
Shortstop Josh Rivera hit a two-run homer in the top of the first inning to give the Gators a lead they held onto until TCU tied the game in the bottom of the eighth.
In the top of the ninth, second baseman Cade Kurland's RBI infield single scored pinch runner Michael Robertson for the game-winning run after Tyler Shelnut had doubled and Robertson came on to run for him.
When closer Brandon Neely polished off the Horned Frogs in the bottom of the inning, Florida had its eighth consecutive victory in the NCAA Tournament and its third in a row by a single run at Omaha this year.
The play of the game arguably was Kurland's bouncing ball toward the hole at shorstop that he beat out for a two-out infield single in the ninth that scored Robertson. After Shelnut led off with a double, Robertson came into the game as a pinch runner. Pinch hitter Dale Thomas then popped up a bunt for the first out, followed by a deep drive to right by Colby Halter for the second out that moved Robertson to third.
Finally, Kurland's bouncer scored Robertson to put the Gators back on top.
But if there was a No. 2 play of the game, Robertson's catch to end the game was as dramatic or more so than Kurland's infield hit that produced the game-winning run. With two down in the bottom of the ninth, TCU's Brayden Taylor hit a ball deep to center field that Robertson caught as he leapt and crashed into the wall. Robertson took over in center field in the bottom of the ninth for defensive purposes, as Wyatt Langford shifted to left.
In Caglianone's first MCWS starter, the sophomore left-hander was shaky but resilient. He needed 35 pitches to get out of the first inning as he allowed one run. From there, he settled in before tiring in the fifth and replaced by right-hander Ryan Slater. Caglianone lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, one run and three walks. He struck out four in his 85-pitch outing and received a no-decision.
TCU loaded the bases twice in the first five innings and could muster only one run. When Slater replaced Caglianone with one on and one out in the top of the fifth, he loaded the bases by allowing a single and walk. However, Slater regrouped to strike out Tre Richardson for the second out and retired Kurtis Byrne on a pop out to second to end the inning.
BY THE NUMBERS
7 - Home runs hit by Gators in CWS.
10 - Home runs hit by rest of CWS field.
HE SAID IT
"We're in a great position now. We've got our pitching lined up with Sproat and Waldrep. You have to have a nucleus of guys that have some matuirty and have some at-bats under their belts, and some guys who have some high-leverage innings to get through games like this. We were fortunate to just get one more run." - Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan on the victory
The Gators advance to the CWS best-of-three championship series for the fourth time in school history. The 2023 Gators joined the 2005, '11 and '17 Gators in earning a berth in the championship series. Florida won its first national title in 2017. The Gators will face the Wake Forest-LSU winner starting on Saturday night at 7 ET.