GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There will be no more rain on the Gator baseball parade.
After a tumultuous Super Regional series with Wake Forest and nearly 10 hours of weather delays, the Gators locked in their spot in the College World Series. Florida is headed to Omaha for the sixth time in the past eight years after a 3-0 win over Wake Forest in Game 3 of the Gainesville Super Regional.
A career-best performance by Tyler Dyson on the mound and a moonshot homer by JJ Schwarz who rose out of a slump this series are two of the big reasons the Gators get this win and move on to Omaha.
“The whole season has been a rollercoaster and I think that’s what made that last out so special,” Schwarz said.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 13, 2017
Not only was the season itself a struggle for the Gators, but also the series was by no means a sunny walk in the park. Instead, it was plagued by rain delays in every single game. Monday’s Game 3 followed up the conclusion of Game 2, which was rained out on Sunday.
When it came to responding to the adversity of another rain delay, Tyler Dyson was the man of the hour –more specifically, 3 hours and 41 minutes.
Usual second-day starter Brady Singer started the game for the Gators but was only able to throw two innings before the rain set in. Singer, who had only given up one hit, infuriatingly exited the field with his team and headed to the dugout for cover.
The rain dissipates, clouds clear, enter Tyler Dyson.
The freshman who had only pitched 26.2 innings so far this season, was absolutely lights out. Dyson not only broke a career-high pitch count (his previous high was 40) but he threw five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out seven.
“He was the difference,” Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter had to say of Dyson. “He made pitch, after pitch, after pitch and we just couldn’t solve him.”
In the post-game press conference, Schwarz made it a point to brag on Dyson’s standout performance, followed up by Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan saying Dyson gave the team “exactly what they needed.
The entire Gators pitching staff did what they do best this weekend – sit down batters. The hurlers recorded a combined 49 strikeouts throughout the series. Wake Forest scored all nine of their runs from the Supers on homers.
Walton said had you told him his pitching staff would only allow five runs in Games 1 and 3 and not come out the winners of the series, he wouldn’t have believed you.
The Gator pitchers were backed up by a stellar defense when they pitched to contact. You could make a highlight reel of Dalton Guthrie just from this weekend after the performance he had at shortstop.
Dalton Guthrie is a WEB GEM MACHINE!
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 12, 2017
Junior Alex Faedo closed out the game for the Gators, throwing the final two frames. After the team dog pile, Faedo said Guthrie told him even more good news; the Detroit Tigers selected him with the 18th pick of the MLB draft.
“I was just happy about the win,” Faedo said. The MLB Draft had not sunk in yet, what did matter in the moment was that he was headed to Omaha for the third consecutive year.
It had been a while since Faedo pitched in something other than the starting role and it took him a batter to settle in. He said he felt lost when he first got out there and gave props to the guys who do it.
Before the rains came, the Gators were the first on the board with a string of hits in the bottom of the second. Jonathan India led off with a double and Deacon Liput followed up behind him with a single. Florida had some momentum going and Mike Rivera plated India with another single.
Then, controversy commenced.
With runners on first and second, Austin Langworthy flew out to centerfield. Liput tagged up at second and took off for third, but it looked as though the outfielder dropped the ball. The play went under review as to whether or not it was a catch.
While fans assumed it was a matter of whether Langworthy or Rivera would be the first base runner, the review affected more than just the runner. Not only was Langworthy called out but Liput was sent back to second. Because the play was ruled no catch on the field and changed upon review, the runner cannot advance.
Resuming in the third inning, the Gators picked up right where they left off before the delay. After the Deacons knocked a single, Dyson struck out the side. In the bottom half of the inning, JJ Schwarz hit his second home run of the day with a two-run smash over the left field wall.
The 3-0 lead held strong as Florida marched to a long-awaited “W”.
Bracketology: Next Up for the Gators
Florida’s first opponent in the CWS will be TCU, who they’ll see on Sunday, 7 p.m. ET. The Horned Frogs has made five CWS appearances since 2010, something no other team has done in that time span.
O’Sullivan is familiar with the terrain and already has some keys to success in Omaha.
1. Don't walk people
2. Play great defense
3. Limit your K's & put the ball in play
And what they have covered: top notch starting pitching
— Savanna E. Collins (@savannaecollins) June 13, 2017
At this point, anyone can win on any given day. It will be a matter of what the Gators can do to walk away on top, one game at a time.