The Florida Gators and the Texas Tech Red Raiders met for the second time in an elimination game during the 2018 College World Series on Thursday night, June 21, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Texas Tech started off the tournament by beating the Gators 6-3 in game four of the CWS, but the loser of this rematch would be packing their bags and heading home. The defending national champion Florida Gators aimed for revenge in a game that turned out to be an offensive showdown. The scoreless first three innings of the game were nothing shy of great defense. Tech’s left fielder, Grant Little, will surely be on every highlight reel after making a jaw-dropping leaping catch at the wall to rob the Florida Gators of a solo home run.
Florida was the first to get on the scoreboard after Jonathon India was walked in the top of the fourth inning. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch, stole third base and basically walked his way into home plate after yet another wild pitch and pass ball from Tech’s starting pitcher.
The Red Raiders have had an impressive offense the entire CWS but Florida was able to hold them scoreless through the first six innings. After tacking on two runs in the top of the fifth and two more in the top of the sixth, the Gators found themselves cruising with a comfortable 5-0 lead.
Texas Tech was by no means unable to get good at bats or contact on the ball, the Florida defense just seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. After leaving several runners on base through the first six innings the Red Raiders finally got rolling enough to get some runs on the board.
A late-inning push in the sixth would cut the deficit to two runs but not long before Florida was able to get back up to bat and answer Tech with three more runs of their own in the top of the eighth to make it 8-3. Another impressive offensive inning by the Red Raider offense, with the bases loaded several times throughout the bottom of the eighth, would keep the game close. Tech scored three more runs to make it 8-6 before heading into the ninth and final inning.
Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, good offense was not enough, a couple mistakes in the field would cost them another run in the top of the ninth to give Florida a 9-6 lead that they carried into the bottom of the ninth. The Gators inserted their closing pitcher, Michael Byrne, and the rest was history. Florida’s defense managed a quick three outs in the bottom of the ninth and eliminated Texas Tech from the 2018 College World Series.
“I think it was probably our best night offensively in a while,” Florida’s head coach, Kevin O’Sullivan said. “But Texas Tech was one of those teams we knew they weren’t going to go away. They hung in there with us and we knew it was going to be a nine-inning ballgame, and they had a terrific year.”
Coach O’Sullivan’s praise of Tech has been well-deserved, this most recent appearance in the CWS was the Red Raiders’ third in the past five years. Tech’s head coach, Tim Tadlock, and of all the Texas Tech faithful are sad to see the season come to an end without nabbing the title as champion.
“Really proud of our team,” said Coach Tadlock after the game, “Really proud of the way they competed. I wish it could have lasted a little longer.”
After Tech was eliminated Thursday night only four teams remain in this year’s CWS tournament. Florida will face the red-hot, 2-0 Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday, June 22nd. While the Oregon State Beavers will have to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs, on Friday, who are also 2-0.
Both Florida and Oregon State will have to defeat their respective competition twice in a row in order to make it to the CWS finals, while Arkansas and Mississippi State are one win away from playing in the finals.