Florida isn’t going to the College World Series this year.
The 38-22 Gators, the No. 15 national seed and hosts of the Gainesville Regional, lost a 5-3 stunner to South Florida on Friday, placing them in the loser’s bracket alongside South Alabama (they were the only national seed to lose). Any hope the unanimous preseason No. 1 team had of making it past Saturday’s elimination game ended in the sixth and seventh innings: The Jaguars scored 10 and five runs, respectively, to take a commanding 19-1 lead.
Only a rain delay stopped the offensive onslaught, though USA did go on to win by that score.
South Alabama entered the bottom of the sixth with a 4-1 lead. Florida pitcher Franco Aleman managed to get two outs before giving up six straight hits and six runs. With his team down 10-1, Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan replaced Aleman with Brandon Sproat, who proceeded to give up hits to the first four batters he faced as the Jaguars’ lead ballooned to 14-1. A groundout mercifully ended the inning.
Sproat then gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh. He allowed an infield single to the Jags’ third batter and struck out their fourth before exiting the game. Ryan Cabarcas entered but promptly served up another homer to give South Alabama a 19-1 lead. The rain delay began with one out in the inning.
In all, Aleman, Sproat and Cabarcas were charged with 17 runs (15 earned) and 16 hits in 3 2/3 innings:
It was a bad day to be in the loser’s bracket in the NCAA Baseball Tournament: Norfolk State lost 16-0 to Maryland and Southeast Missouri lost 21-0 to Southern Miss. But those blowouts don’t quite have the sting of Florida’s loss to South Alabama, considering the former’s allegiance with the Southeastern Conference.
Here are some of the reactions as observers watched the Gators’ College World Series hopes disappear:
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