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Florida's baseball team is one of six teams still in the Men's College World Series.

UF head coach Kevin O'Sullivan has stressed his team's resilience, emphasizing that the Gators have basically been playing playoff baseball for a couple of months now. They'll need to take a lot of that theme into Tuesday's game, as brutal weather is forecast for Tuesday night in Omaha.

“We've been playing for our lives the last month of the season,” O'Sullivan said. “We're going back to South Florida in a midweek game. We [were] Fighting the SEC record, and we [were] We struggled to get over .500 overall. I think that put us in a pretty tough spot and that probably helped our team get stronger mentally.”

The Gators' never-ending mentality led to an improbable run, ultimately ending up at the Men's College World Series after being among the final four teams selected from the 64-team field.

Florida's season will be decided in another elimination game against a familiar opponent from Kentucky, which won two of three games against the Gators in a home series at Condron Ballpark during the regular season.

“I'm just really proud of the resilience of our team,” O'Sullivan said. “Everyone knows, of course, that in the elimination round it's all about emotions and keeping your energy up.”

College baseball is also about getting into the swing of things and peaking at the right time toward the end of the season, as evidenced by an unranked Florida team that unexpectedly showed up at the MCWS and now risks sending home the No. 2 national seed.

Kentucky has a balanced lineup with good performance at the plate and solid defense behind its pitchers. Eight players have a batting average of .290 or better, led by graduate student Nick Lopez, junior outfielder Ryan Waldshmidt and graduate student infielder Ryan Nicholson.

Lopez has the team's best batting average, hitting .341 with six home runs this year. However, the majority of the Wildcats' hitting power comes from Nicholson. The graduate student hit 23 home runs and had 63 RBIs in 2024. Waldschmidt rounds out Kentucky's impressive batting order with a 1.078 OPS and 64 runs scored, a team-best total.

Florida's pitching staff will have its back against the wall in a win-or-lose game. However, there have been a number of pleasant surprises for Florida fans after the Gators' disappointing season.

O'Sullivan announced after UF's 5-4 win over NC State on Monday that he would likely hand the ball off to redshirt sophomore pitcher Pierce Coppola with the team's season on the line.

Although Coppola posted a 9.16 ERA this season, O'Sullivan stressed the importance of his team producing quality performances.

“I am sure we will start Pierce [Coppola],” O'Sullivan said. “We need some guys who haven't pitched yet to go out there and get three or six outs for us.”

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First pitch between Florida and Kentucky is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska.

Contact Max Tucker at mtucker@alligator.org. Follow him on X @Max_Tuckr1.

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Max Tucker

Max Tucker is a junior transfer student at UF. After receiving his AA in Journalism from Santa Fe College in 2023, he decided to continue his education at Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. Max is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a specialization in Sports and Media. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf and going to the beach with his friends.

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