For Jackson Kowar, Friday night wasn’t the most convenient time to accrue his first loss of the season.
Stepping on the mound with a perfect 12-0 record and an opportunity to send Florida’s baseball team to the College World Series final, Kowar did his part for the Gators, tossing a career-high 11 strikeouts and allowing four runs over five innings pitched.
However, UF’s offense struggled to garner much run support for the 6-foot-5 right-hander, mustering only two runs on five hits in a 9-2 defeat at the hands of TCU.
“I thought Jackson (Kowar) threw the ball well,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said in a release. “The bottom line is we need to score more runs.”
Florida (49-19) failed to have a single batter in its lineup register more than one base hit against the Horned Frogs (50-17). The team’s only runs came in the bottom of the third inning off a solo home run from catcher Mike Rivera and an RBI double from shortstop Dalton Guthrie.
From there, TCU starter Mitchell Traver and relievers Charles King, Dalton Brown and Trey Morris cruised on the mound against the Gators.
The Horned Frogs offense struck first in the top of the third inning off a pair of RBIs from right fielder Austen Wade and designated hitter Zach Humphreys. A triple from Josh Watson in the top of the fourth then drove in two more runs to give TCU a 4-2 lead.
“I just think I didn’t locate a couple of fastballs with two outs,” Kowar said in a release. “In those situations, you’ve got to get off the field.”
In the top of the sixth, O’Sullivan went to his bullpen, first calling upon Garrett Milchin.
Milchin struggled in his College World Series debut, recording only one out and loading the bases before exiting with forearm tightness.
Senior Frank Rubio then entered the game and gave up a three-RBI double to catcher Evan Skoug, putting the game out of reach for UF with a six-run deficit.
The Gators will now face TCU again on Saturday at 8 p.m. in a do-or-die elimination game. The winner will advance to the College World Series final, with Alex Faedo expected to start on the mound for Florida and Jared Janczak expected to go for the Horned Frogs.
Oregon State and LSU will play at 3 p.m. in the exact same scenario.
“(Saturday) should be very interesting,” O’Sullivan said. “It should be an interesting couple of games. I’m looking forward to it.”