June 16, 2015

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OMAHA, Neb. – The Virginia baseball team advanced to the bracket championship game at the College World Series with a 1-0 win over No. 4 national seed Florida Monday evening in front of 19,444 fans at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Brandon Waddell (Jr., Houston, Texas) and Josh Sborz (Jr., McLean, Va.) combined on a two-hit shutout as the Cavaliers (41-22) remained unbeaten at 7-0 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Virginia advances to the bracket championship game, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday. Florida (50-17) faces Miami at 8 p.m. Wednesday in an elimination game. The winner of the Florida-Miami game needs to defeat UVa twice in order to advance to the CWS Finals.

“Certainly that was a tremendous outing by Brandon Waddell,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “I think that was really the story of the game. It just felt like from pitch one to when he came out of the game there in the eighth inning, he was in really good command of the game, the best he’s been all year. Certainly saved his best outing of the year for a really, really important time. We were fortunate to scratch across a run. (A.J.) Puk was tremendous. What a talented young man. I’m just proud of our guys. We battled enough to find a way. And Waddell was just tremendous and Josh (Sborz) came in there in a difficult situation, first and third, and was able to pitch out of it. I’m just really proud of our guys and looking forward to getting another chance to play on Friday.”

Waddell (4-5) worked seven innings, allowing two hits and three walks while striking out three to earn the win. Sborz worked out of a jam in the eighth inning and retired all six batters he faced in recording his 15th save. With the win, Waddell notched his 20th career victory and moved into an eighth-place tie on the all-time Virginia wins ledger.

In snapping the Gators’ 10-game win streak, UVa recorded its first-ever 1-0 NCAA tournament win and just the 20th 1-0 victory in CWS history.

Waddell now is 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in 23 career innings in the College World Series. He currently ranks eighth in ERA in CWS history for all pitchers with a minimum of 20 innings. He retired 12 straight batters from the second through fifth innings and set down 17 of 19 batters in a stretch from the second through seventh innings.

Florida starter A.J. Puk (9-4) pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing a run, four hits and three walks while striking out five in taking the defeat. The Gators limited UVa to five hits as no Cavalier had more than one hit.

Virginia scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, UVa got consecutive singles from Matt Thaiss (So., Jackson, N.J.), Kenny Towns (Sr., Burke, Va.) and Pavin Smith (Fr., Jupiter, Fla.) to load the bases. Florida brought on right-handed reliever Taylor Lewis, but Robbie Coman (Jr., Lake Worth, Fla.) lifted a sacrifice fly to center to give UVa a 1-0 lead.

After Waddell stymied Florida for seven innings, the Gators knocked him from the game in the eighth. Dalton Guthrie drew a leadoff walk and Ryan Larson lined a single to center for Florida’s second hit of the day, moving Guthrie to third as the Gators put a runner on third for the first time in the game. UVa brought on Sborz to face the top of the Gators’ batting order. Sborz got the first out by knocking down a Harrison Bader liner back to the mound, as he went to second base for the force out. He then got Richie Martin to softly line out to second base before Josh Tobias hit a routine grounder to second to end the threat. Sborz worked a 1-2-3 ninth to finish off the win.