Schwarz homers twice, Florida beats FSU, advances to CWS
Jun. 07, 2015
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — JJ Schwarz raced toward the pitcher's mound — he was one of the first to arrive — and ended up at the bottom of the 30-man pile.
"Looking back, I think that was a bad idea," he said.
It was a rare mistake for the red-hot freshman.
Schwarz homered twice, breaking Florida's freshman record and continuing his torrid postseason, and the Gators advanced to the College World Series with an 11-4 victory over rival Florida State on Saturday night.
"JJ had one of those days that don't come around very often," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said.
The Gators, the No. 4 national seed, swept the Seminoles and earned their fourth trip to Omaha, Nebraska, in the last six years. Florida will open CWS play next Saturday against another familiar foe, Miami.
Schwarz can only hope to continue his hot streak.
The catcher/designated hitter hit a two-run homer in the second inning that tied the game, walked and scored in the third, and added a solo shot in the sixth that gave the Gators (49-16) a little extra cushion against the Seminoles (44-21). It was his 18th homer of the season, breaking the previous freshman mark set by Austin Maddox in 2010.
"He put great swings on both of them," FSU standout DJ Stewart said. "They were both no-doubt shots."
Schwarz also singled in the eighth.
Collegiate Baseball's co-freshman of the year improved his batting average to .564 (22 of 39) in 10 postseason games. He has four homers, five doubles, 14 runs and 17 RBIs.
He's been even better in the NCAA Tournament, hitting .600 (12 of 20) with four homers, nine runs and 11 RBIs.
Not too shabby for a guy trying to keep pace with his older sister, Taylor, who helped the Gators win back-to-back national titles in softball earlier this week.
"This week's been un-describable," JJ Schwarz said. "My sister winning the national championship. That's such an accomplishment. I'm so happy for her, and my parents are happy for her. I think it's our turn now. We're really excited to get out to Omaha and hopefully take one home."
The whole Schwarz family was on hand to watch JJ and his teammates rush the mound and celebrate.
The Seminoles, meanwhile, trudged home with their ninth loss in their last 10 games in Gainesville.
"We ran into a buzz saw," Martin said. "They're certainly a team that can take this momentum to Omaha and certainly come back with a championship."
The Gators were shaky early, giving up two runs in FSU's first four batters, but settled down quickly and played much like they did in winning 15 of their previous 18 games. Florida won the Southeastern Conference tournament, swept last weekend's regional by a combined score of 29-3 and then handled the Seminoles with relative ease.
Pitching, defense and jumping on FSU's starters were key.
Reliever Bobby Poyner (5-2) pitched five scoreless innings for the win. FSU starter Mike Compton (4-4) gave up six runs in 2 2-3 innings.
Schwarz garnered the most attention, no easy task considering he was the MVP of the SEC tournament and last week's regional.
"He's really caught fire here," O'Sullivan said. "This is what happens. If you're going to win a championship, a couple guys just got to really get hot. Obviously, he's kind of getting to that point where he's carrying us a little bit right now. ... He's just a really special player, a special hitter, a special catcher, and he's put together quite the year."
But now this young team — O'Sullivan had four freshmen and three sophomores in his starting lineup Saturday — will try to bring Florida its first national title.
The Gators will be making their ninth trip to Omaha, and if they keep playing like they have since early May, they surely will have a chance.
"We've gotten hot at the right time," Poyner said.