Wake Forest left fielder Jonathan Pryor started running back on a deep JJ Schwarz shot to the outfield in the bottom of the third inning after a three-hour long rain delay. As he reached the warning track, he started to slow down.
The same can't be said for the ball, however. It kept going until it cleared the wall and sailed over the bleachers.
Schwarz had crushed one out of the park, putting Florida ahead by three runs early in game three of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional.
That lead would ultimately hold, as the Gators defeated Wake Forest 3-0 on Monday night at McKethan Stadium to advance to the College World Series in Omaha.
“I know the coaches wanted me to pull the ball,” Schwarz said. “So that’s what I was trying to do... I just reacted and put a good swing on it.”
The Gators got off to a hot start early in the game.
In the second inning, the Gators collected three hits, including catcher Mike Rivera’s single that scored third baseman Jonathan India from third.
Then in the third inning, Dalton Guthrie singled to left field and took second on a wild pitch, setting up Schwarz’s bomb over the left-field wall.
Florida also got some help from its three pitchers, including a career performance from freshman reliever Tyler Dyson.
Brady Singer got the start, and provided two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three before the rain started coming down. When play resumed, Dyson took the mound.
The Bradenton, Florida, native, who had never pitched more than two innings prior to Monday night’s game, went five scoreless innings, recording a career-high seven strikeouts and allowing just two hits.
In the top of the eighth, the Gators turned to usual starter Alex Faedo to close out the game. That inning was the closest Wake Forest came to scoring.
After walking Bruce Steel, Faedo retired the next two batters before Pryor singled against the Tampa native.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Faedo escaped the jam by striking out Jake Mueller and sent the Gators to Omaha with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth.
“I take notes and throw it out the window at this point,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s all about winning, and we’ve won a lot of tough games, a lot of ugly wins. But an ugly win is better than a pretty loss, I know that.”
UF's game three win came on the heels of an 8-6 loss against Wake Forest earlier in the day.
Demon Deacons catcher Ben Breazeale hit a walkoff homer against closer Michael Byrne in the 11th inning, forcing a decisive third game to be played.
With Florida officially punching its ticket to Omaha, it will face TCU in the first game of the College World Series on June 18 at 7 p.m. The winner of that game will play the winner of a contest between Louisville and Texas A&M.
Contact Jake Dreilinger at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake.
Catcher JJ Schwarz is 8-for-19 from the plate with a pair of home runs over the last five games.