OMAHA, Neb. — Cade Kurland's ninth-inning infield single drove in the tiebreaking run, and Florida claimed a spot in the College World Series finals with a 3-2 victory over TCU on Wednesday.
The Gators (53-15) will play No. 1 national seed Wake Forest or LSU in the best-of-three championship series starting Saturday. Wake Forest would advance with a win over the Tigers on Wednesday night. An LSU win would force a second bracket final Thursday.
Florida is in the finals for the fourth time and first since it won the national championship in 2017. But the win wasn't secure until Michael Robertson, who entered in the top of the ninth as a pinch runner, caught Brayden Taylor's deep fly against the center-field wall to end the game.
TCU (44-24) staved off elimination twice to get to Wednesday's game, and it finished the season with wins in 21 of 25 games.
Florida led 2-1 after the first inning, and neither team scored again until TCU tied it in the bottom of the eighth when Tre Richardson singled, took second on a groundout and came home on Anthony Silva's deep fly to left-center that bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.
Tyler Shelnut doubled off the right-center wall leading off the Florida ninth against Ben Abeldt. Garrett Wright relieved, and pinch hitter Dale Thomas popped out trying to bunt before Colby Halter's deep flyout allowed Robertson to take third. Robertson scored when Kurland's grounder to short pulled Silva to his right. Silva bounced a throw to first that was far too late to get Kurland.
Since the NCAA tournament went to its current format in 1999, Florida and Mississippi State in 2021 are the only teams to win three straight one-run games to make the finals. The Gators beat Virginia 6-5 and Oral Roberts 5-4 in their first two games in Omaha.
The Gators have won eight straight games since a loss to Texas Tech in the regional.
Florida two-way star Jac Caglianone was shaky over 4 1/3 innings in his first start since June 2. He had walked three, hit three batters and gave up three hits when he left.
Josh Rivera, the Gators' shortstop, hit a two-run homer in the first inning and made a perfect relay throw home to prevent TCU from scoring the tying run in the fourth.
Freshman Kole Klecker, starting on four days' rest for the first time, allowed two runs on six hits in five innings.