(Part 1 of a College World Series preview series)

Marq Mitcham Sports Editor @MarqMitcham

Nothing has come easy for Florida this season, which is exactly why the Gators could be a factor in the College World Series. With an 18-7 record in one-run games, the Gators are well-prepared for the grind.

In a matchup of the only two holdovers from the 2016 CWS, the Gators (47-18) are paired against TCU (47-16) Sunday at 6 p.m. in Game 4 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

Florida won winner-take-all championship games in both the Regional and Super Regional to claim a ticket to Omaha for the third straight year and the 11th time in program history.

In the Gainesville Regional, the Gators defeated Marist 10-6 and South Florida 5-1 before being upset by Bethune-Cookman 6-2. Florida took the decisive game 6-1.

Hosting Wake Forest in the Super Regional, the Gators split a pair of 11-inning decisions (2-1, 6-8) before taking the finale 3-0.

Florida’s .262 batting average is the lowest among CWS teams and its 5.49 runs per game ranks seventh in the field, only slightly ahead of Cal State Fullerton’s 5.48.

Junior catcher/first baseman JJ Schwarz is batting .271 while leading the team with 111 total bases, 64 hits, 12 home runs, 53 RBI and 42 runs. Schwarz’s home run total doubles that of his nearest teammate.

He has been on a tear over the past 25 games, batting .315 with seven homers.

Senior center fielder Ryan Larson (.304 batting average, 5 home runs, 24 RBI) and sophomore Nelson Maldonado (.304-6-31) are the only Gators hitting over .300. Maldonado’s .456 on base percentage is tops on the team.

Rounding out the Gators’ regulars are junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie (.272-4-22), sophomore third baseman Jonathan India (.280-6-32), sophomore second baseman Deacon Liput

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