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Jameson McCausland

What you need to know: Florida

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On Tuesday afternoon, Texas will try to begin a journey to accomplish what no team has done since South Carolina in 2010: Lose their first game of the College World Series and rebound to win a National Championship. The Longhorns will face off in an elimination game against the #1 overall seed Florida, who lost to Texas Tech 6-3 on Sunday night. The Gators boast an outstanding pitching staff and a very good offense.

Here is everything you need to know about Florida:

Pitching

  • The Gators will send RHP Jackson Kowar to the mound to try to save their season. Kowar, who was the 33rd overall selection in the MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals, is 9-5 on the season with a 3.24 ERA.
    • Kowar has a fastball that sits comfortably in the 91-93 range, but he can reach back for a little extra when he needs to.
    • His best secondary offering is his change-up, but he also throws a curveball.
    • Kowar has two starts so far in the NCAA Tournament, one in the Gainesville regional against Florida Atlantic (6 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K), and one in the Gainesville Super Regional against Auburn (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K).
  • In the bullpen, Florida has an excellent closer in RHP Michael Byrne (58 IP, 1.71 ERA, 15 saves). Bryne, a 14th round pick of the Cincinnati Reds, pitched 1 ⅓ innings in the Gators loss to Texas Tech, allowing 1 run on 1 hit in 1 ⅓ innings.
  • Bryne offers a fastball that sits 90-92, coupling it with a good slider. He is a strike thrower (5 walks in 58 innings) and has excellent command
  • Other relief options for the Gators include Jordan Butler (6-2, 4.01 ERA, 58 SO) and Jack Leftwich (4-5, 4.32 ERA, 79 SO).

Offense

  • The first name that should be mentioned when talking about the Florida offense is 3B Jonathan India, who was the 5th overall pick in the MLB Draft. India has mashed 20 home runs this year and is hitting .355 with 48 RBI’s. His OBP sits at over .500 (.503) and he leads the team in walks (58). India is also tied for the team lead in steals with 12
  • The Gators received good news prior to yesterday’s game against Tech. 1B JJ Schwarz, who suffered a small break in his right hand a while back, returned to the lineup. Schwarz ranks second on the team in batting average (.319) and RBI’s (46).. The 8th round pick of the Oakland Athletics went 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts in his return to the lineup on Sunday, but head coach Kevin O’Sullivan did not seem worried.
    • “He hasn’t played in a while. The first at-bat was pretty good. He hit the ball to the warning track the other way. He had a good approach. At the end of the day we’re here because he’s one of the main reasons we’re here. And he felt like he could play tonight and I wasn’t going to juggle the whole lineup. Just put him right in there and see what happens.”-Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan
  • Lead-off man Deacon Liput is a 10th round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers and is hitting .286 with 9 home runs and 37 RBI’s.

Overall Thoughts

It was just announced Blair Henley would start tomorrow against the Gators. The move makes sense considering Chase Shugart was used yesterday out of the bullpen. Shugart will be available in relief again and David Pierce will do whatever he has to do to make sure the Longhorns win the elimination game. When you are in the loser’s bracket, you have to focus on one game at a time, which means there is no need to conserve pitching when there may not be a tomorrow. It would not surprise me at all if Pierce chooses to use Henley for as long as he can and then use Shugart to try to close the game out. Henley’s stuff matches up pretty well against the Florida offense, but he will need to effectively use his changeup and avoid walks, which has plagued him at times this season.

Jackson Kowar has been a little bit wild at times this season, which plays into the hands of a Texas team that ranks 13th in the nation in walks (315). The Longhorns best shot will be getting to the Florida bullpen early and seeing multiple pitchers other than Kowar and Byrne. If Kody Clemens gets going, the rest of the lineup usually follows.

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