Florida needed a dream of a ninth inning to avoid another nightmare at the College World Series. And for a moment, after Peter Alonso powdered another baseball out of cavernous TD Ameritrade Park, it seemed like the Gators might just live that dream.
Then reality returned — and reduced the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament to just another squad eliminated without a win at the College World Series.
Texas Tech got a two-run homer from Eric Gutierrez off Alex Faedo's only real mistake of the day and an insurance-turned-game-winning run in the top of the ninth on two Gators errors to build a 3-0 lead, and Alonso's big fly could only cut the final margin of defeat to 3-2, and make Florida's "two-and-'cue" exit from Omaha just a bit more excruciating.
Florida had just five hits on the day, three of them in the ninth.
This was a day of small mistakes becoming fatal ones, and near-misses becoming deep wounds.
JJ Schwarz clubbed a ball to the warning track in the first, only for a Tech outfielder to run it down. Faedo hung the slider that Gutierrez swatted to left, a rare error in a nine-strikeout, 7.2-inning performance. Schwarz failed to come through with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, getting jammed for a chopper to the pitcher and then getting called out for runner interference after being pegged in the shoulder while racing to first. Jonathan India threw just wide of first on the play that would score Tech's third run, and Alonso threw well wide of third in an attempt to cut down the lead runner.
And, finally, India tried to stretch a single into a double on Florida's last out, and was hung out to dry by a brilliant throw from left.
In 18 innings in Omaha, Florida allowed just five runs, with only three of them earned. But the Gators only scored three, and never led, hitting under .200 over their short stint at the College World Series and pounding just two extra-base hits.
And this is just the latest Omaha trip to end with obscenities for Florida fans, who have seen the No. 1 overall seed leave Nebraska without a win twice since 2012, and only gotten to cheer for one of the five Gators squads to make the trip under Kevin O'Sullivan in the championship series.
Florida will reload, as it always has under O'Sullivan, and should have a talented lineup and fearsome staff again in 2017. For fans who have been waiting until next year for years on end, though, this will sting for a summer, fall, and spring.