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Florida 10, Virginia 5: Gators' barrage continues, forcing decisive Saturday showdown

With more output from their monstrous offense, the Gators stayed alive in Omaha.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Florida entered the third inning of its Friday game against Virginia without a single run against the Cavaliers in 11 innings in Omaha. The Gators left it with four — more than Virginia had previously allowed in the College World Series.

And with a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Florida's four-run third inning and five-run sixth helped the Gators turn a close contest into a blowout, and a strong start from Logan Shore complemented the continuation of an offensive onslaught in the Gators' 10-5 win.

Three Gators contributed two RBI, led by Richie Martin, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles. And JJ Schwarz, Florida's freshman wunderkind, didn't even record one of those RBI, instead settling for a 2-for-4 day with two runs and third appearance on base.

Virginia's strategem — starting staff ace Nathan Kirby despite his six-week absence from the field while rehabbing an injury suffered in April — failed to pay off for the Cavaliers. Kirby worked through Florida's order once without incident, but the Gators got to him on their second pass, and knocked him out before the end of the third inning, saddling him with three earned runs in 2.2 innings of work.

And Florida banged out the same page of their script against Virginia reliever Alec Bettinger, who gave up five runs in his 2.2 innings on the mound.

Florida's run production in Omaha has been historic for TD Ameritrade Park: The Gators have the most 10-run games (three) and most runs (35) in a single College World Series there, having now twice scored 10 runs without the benefit of a homer after tallying exactly that many with the aid of four.

That's allowed Florida's very good, but not great — outside of a brilliant A.J. Puk outing on Monday — pitching to be more than enough. Shore allowed four earned runs in 6.1 innings on Friday, but could have been charged with just one, had reliever Bobby Poyner not permitted all three runners on base when Shore left the game in the top of the seventh to score.

While Florida does have a commanding lead in the run tally in this College World Series, the Gators also entered Friday with the most runs allowed of any team remaining in the field, and only moved back to second place in that category by virtue of hanging double digits on the Cavaliers.

And the Gators may well need that sort of offense again on Saturday. With Shore and freshman Alex Faedo on far too short rest to throw, Florida could go to Puk on four days' rest — significantly less than the usual week off between starts for college hurlers — or turn to Dane Dunning, who lost his spot in the Gators' rotation to Faedo as the season wore on.

Virginia, on the other hand, is likely to start Conner Jones, who became the Cavaliers' No. 1 starter in the wake of Kirby's injury, and who has three quality starts in three tries in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Florida has positioned itself as well as it can after having dropped a game in its bracket. Now the Gators will have to finish a comeback to reach the championship series.