Florida Gators: Greg Larson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When Florida pitcher Greg Larson found out the Gators’ first game in the College World Series is against SEC rival South Carolina, he got excited.

"They’ve had a great run," Larson said of the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks. "Just kind of thinking about last year, we were going to run into them sooner or later, so why not first game in Omaha?"

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Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesSouth Carolina edged Florida in the College World Series final last season.
What Larson was thinking about from last year was South Carolina’s sweep over Florida in the best-of-three CWS championship series. The Gamecocks won the first game 2-1 in 11 innings and the second game 5-2. But Larson said while the Gators remember that heartbreak, they aren’t talking about revenge or anything like that.

"The year has dulled it," he said. "I don’t think there’s any bitterness. We’ve kind of moved on from last year and are trying to make this year count."

Top-seeded Florida (47-18) is the favorite to win the national title despite South Carolina (45-17) winning the last two titles and riding a 21-game NCAA tournament winning streak. The Gators have outscored opponents 41-14 this postseason, which the majority of the runs allowed coming in Sunday’s 9-8 victory over N.C. State to sweep the Super Regional.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s Brian Johnson obviously has the potential to become a Major League player. It just isn’t clear at which position.

The Boston Red Sox selected the left-handed pitcher with the 31st and final pick in the first round of the MLB draft on Monday night. Johnson’s pitching skills got him drafted that high, but his offensive skills make him an intriguing prospect as a position player.

ESPN MLB draft expert Kiley McDaniel said scouts like the fact that Johnson throws four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider and changeup) and has good control. His ability to hit could also earn him time at first base, too.

"He's a pitchability lefty with above-average stuff and command along the lines of Mark Buehrle and also has average raw power from the left side as a solid 1B prospect," McDaniel wrote in analyzing the selection. "Johnson isn't the greatest athlete and is a little stiff, but he makes his delivery work for him and could help the Red Sox as a quick-moving savvy lefty."

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- All Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan wanted was just one run.

Trailing 2-0 with two runners on with one out in the bottom of the third inning against rival Florida State, getting one run was the goal to stop the Seminoles' momentum. Preston Tucker gave O'Sullivan what he wanted -- plus two more. The senior right fielder hit a three-run homer over the right-field wall to spark the Gators to a 9-2 victory in front of a McKethan Stadium-record crowd of 6,005 Tuesday night.

"We were down two runs at the time," said Tucker, who is second on the team with 16 RBIs and six home runs. "We were trying to at least get one across. He left it up a little bit and I put a good swing on it."

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak to Florida State. It also was UF's 14th win in a row, which tied a school record set in 2001 and 2004.

Tucker's homer loosened up UF's offense. Nolan Fontana drove in a run in the fourth on a groundout and another in the sixth on a solo home run. Mike Zunino drove in runs in the seventh on a sacrifice fly and in the eighth on a single. Daniel Pigott also drove in a pair of runs in the eighth on a single.

While the top-ranked Gators (16-1) were rolling offensively, the sixth-ranked Seminoles (14-2) couldn't solve UF's bullpen. UF relievers Greg Larson, Steven Rodriguez, Daniel Gibson and Austin Maddox limited FSU to just two hits in 6.1 innings and at one point retired 12 consecutive batters until Sherman Johnson's one-out single in the eighth.

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