JJ Schwarz powers Gators to College World Series

Florida third base coach Craig Bell congratulates JJ Schwarz (22) after Schwarz hit a grand slam against Florida State in Game 3 of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional in Gainesville, Fla., on Monday, June 13, 2016. Florida won 7-0. (AP Photo/Ronald Irby)
Florida third base coach Craig Bell congratulates JJ Schwarz (22) after Schwarz hit a grand slam against Florida State in Game 3 of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional in Gainesville, Fla., on Monday, June 13, 2016. Florida won 7-0. (AP Photo/Ronald Irby)

GAINESVILLE — JJ Schwarz took a moment to clear his mind when he stepped into the batter’s box in the fifth inning.

Florida was up 2-0 and was in search of one big hit to all but seal a trip to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series. Schwarz went to the plate with the bases loaded looking to deliver the final blow to Florida State.

And on a 1-0 count from FSU pitcher Jim Voyels, the Palm Beach Gardens native sealed both teams’ fates, hitting a grand slam — and later adding an RBI double — powering the Gators to a 7-0 win and booking a trip to the CWS.

“Going into the at-bat, there was a lot running through my mind,” Schwarz said. “I knew he was going to throw a slider eventually … so I got one over the plate, one that I liked and just put a good swing on it.”

It’s the second straight season Florida (52-14) is heading to Omaha and the 10th time in program history. It’s also the fifth CWS trip in the last seven years under coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

UF entered the season as the top-ranked team in the country, and facing immense pressure the entire year, Florida prevailed and got back to Omaha.

“I just can’t say enough about our team,” O’Sullivan said. “We had the No. 1 ranking going into the season, and we got some guys that are going to be high draft (picks), and it’s very difficult to juggle those things.

The Florida team celebrates a 7-0 win over Florida State in Game 3 of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional in Gainesville, Fla., on Monday, June 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Irby)
The Florida team celebrates a 7-0 win over Florida State in Game 3 of an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional in Gainesville, Fla., on Monday, June 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Irby)

“I couldn’t be more proud the way they’ve handled the expectations from a team standpoint and how selfless they were individually. I’m just proud we have an opportunity to go back to Omaha.”

Florida opened the scoring after Dalton Guthrie scored on a Cole Sands wild pitch, and Peter Alonso added his fourth postseason home run in the third inning to double the Gators’ lead before Schwarz’s home run ended all hope of a FSU comeback.

After winning the opening game of the Super Regional, Florida State (41-22) didn’t have the pitching depth to match the Gators staff.

FSU left 11 men on base Monday night and failed to capitalize on UF starting pitcher A.J. Puk’s inability to find the strike zone. Florida State got its first two runners on base in the first, but came away with nothing after Puk struck out the next two hitters and got Dylan Busby to line out softly to second.

Once Dane Dunning came in on in relief for the Gators, the Seminoles weren’t able to get anything going offensively. The junior righty pitched 4 ⅓ scoreless innings. FSU was held scoreless for the final 22 innings of the Super Regional.

“We hope and pray that we never come back down here again for a Super Regional,” FSU coach Mike Martin said jokingly. “But I’m proud of these young men and what they accomplished this year.”

Now the Gators shift their attention to Coastal Carolina, who upset eighth-seeded LSU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional, next Sunday at 8 p.m.

After losing two one-run games to Virginia last year in Omaha, the Gators will be motivated to win the program’s first national title.

“I’m excited for this trip to Omaha because we got a lot of unfinished business we need to take care of,” Buddy Reed said.

Florida Gators baseball earns No. 1 overall seed for NCAA tournament

Logan Shore pitches during Florida's 4-3 win over Missouri on March 18 / Photo by Luis Torres
Logan Shore pitches during Florida’s 4-3 win over Missouri on March 18 / Photo by Luis Torres

GAINESVILLE — Florida’s road to its first national title will begin in Gainesville once again.

Following a loss to Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference tournament finale, the Gators baseball team has been tabbed as the No. 1 overall national seed in the NCAA Baseball tournament. Continue reading “Florida Gators baseball earns No. 1 overall seed for NCAA tournament”

Report: Gators to play Duke in 2016 Jimmy V Classic, Devin Robinson to declare for NBA Draft

GAINESVILLE — The Florida basketball team will have a huge non-conference test next season.

Devin Robinson #3 of the Florida Gators lays the ball in past Craig Sword #32 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the game at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on January 19, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Devin Robinson #3 of the Florida Gators lays the ball in past Craig Sword #32 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the game at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on January 19, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

The Gators will be playing the Duke Blue Devils as part of the 2016 Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Gardens, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein. Continue reading “Report: Gators to play Duke in 2016 Jimmy V Classic, Devin Robinson to declare for NBA Draft”

Notebook: Gators quarterbacks ‘took some steps back’ during spring scrimmage

GAINESVILLE — The quarterback battle has been one of the most intriguing spring storylines for the Gators, but coach Jim McElwain wasn’t overly impressed with how the quarterbacks played in Florida’s second spring scrimmage Friday.

Quarterback Luke Del Rio throws a pass during the Gators' first day of spring football practice Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at the Sanders Practice Fields in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Courtney Culbreath
Quarterback Luke Del Rio throws a pass during the Gators’ first day of spring football practice Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at the Sanders Practice Fields in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Courtney Culbreath

“Quarterbacks, eh, just OK. I mean not great, not bad, just kind of keep working on the consistency piece there,” McElwain said Monday. Continue reading “Notebook: Gators quarterbacks ‘took some steps back’ during spring scrimmage”

Notebook: Jim McElwain pleased with Gators’ first spring scrimmage

GAINESVILLE — Florida held its first spring scrimmage on Thursday, allowing Jim McElwain to evaluate his team in game situations for the first time this month.

Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators watches the action during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field on October 31, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators watches the action during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field on October 31, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Overall, the Gators’ second-year coach was pleased with the scrimmage.

“Really felt good about the scrimmage on Thursday,” McElwain said. “We got about 117 snaps in, not counting special teams. Got a lot of guys some, I thought, valuable reps, especially some of the young guys.” Continue reading “Notebook: Jim McElwain pleased with Gators’ first spring scrimmage”

Florida Gators make Jim McElwain highest paid coach in SEC East

GAINESVILLE — Florida head coach Jim McElwain is getting a hefty raise.

Jim McElwain head coach of the Florida Gators wave to fans as he leaves the field after a 21-3 win over the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Jim McElwain head coach of the Florida Gators wave to fans as he leaves the field after a 21-3 win over the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Following a 10-4 season where McElwain led the Gators to the Southeastern Conference title game, McElwain’s annual compensation is jumping from $3.5 million per year to $4.25 million per year, with his contract still running through the 2020 season. Continue reading “Florida Gators make Jim McElwain highest paid coach in SEC East”

Notebook: Florida Gators set to hold first spring scrimmage Thursday

GAINESVILLE — Florida is scheduled to hold its first full spring scrimmage Thursday.

Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators waves to the crowd after the game against the Mississippi Rebels on October 3, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Head coach Jim McElwain of the Florida Gators waves to the crowd after the game against the Mississippi Rebels on October 3, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Coach Jim McElwain said the team will have between 117-128 reps inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, with an emphasis on situational drills.

[Gators QB Del Rio turned down McElwain recruiting bid in 2012]

[Q&A with Florida Gators QB Luke Del Rio]

“We’ll work some situational things, some third down, some red area, some goal-line,” McElwain said. “Just so we’re kind of doing some two-minute before the half, two-minute at the end of the game, some of those kind of things just from a situation standpoint and see how the guys handle that.” Continue reading “Notebook: Florida Gators set to hold first spring scrimmage Thursday”

Notebook: Jim McElwain pleased with Gators’ practice over weekend

GAINESVILLE — Jim McElwain was disappointed with his team’s effort in practice last Wednesday.

Jim McElwain the head coach of the Florida Gators gives instructions to his team against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jim McElwain the head coach of the Florida Gators gives instructions to his team against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

While he said there were some players who worked hard, he wasn’t thrilled with the attitude the team had. It was a different story over the weekend, according to McElwain.

(What’s at stake in Gators Pro Day?)

“We had what I felt was our best practice Saturday,” McElwain said on Monday. “Thought the guys really came from start to finish with the attitude and the energy to get a lot accomplished.” Continue reading “Notebook: Jim McElwain pleased with Gators’ practice over weekend”

Notebook: Gators OT Fred Johnson looking to show growth in spring

GAINESVILLE — Fred Johnson towers over most of his offensive line teammates.

Florida offensive lineman Fred Johnson (74) stands on the field during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Florida offensive lineman Fred Johnson (74) stands on the field during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Royal Palm Beach alum is listed at 6-foot-6 weighing in at 315 pounds. But if you take a look at him during Florida’s spring practices, Johnson seems to be a lot bigger than what he’s listed at. Continue reading “Notebook: Gators OT Fred Johnson looking to show growth in spring”

New defensive backs coach Torrian Gray looking to build depth in Gators secondary

GAINESVILLE — At Virginia Tech, Torrian Gray built a reputation as one of the top defensive backs coaches in the country. He coached nine players who were eventually taken in the NFL, including Kam Chancellor and All-Americans Victor Harris and Kyle and Kendall Fuller.

Torrian Gray (Photo by Getty Images)
Torrian Gray (Photo by Getty Images)

But when Florida coach Jim McElwain came calling in search of a new defensive backs coach, it was an opportunity too good to pass up for Gray, who is also from Lakeland. Continue reading “New defensive backs coach Torrian Gray looking to build depth in Gators secondary”