Omaha, Neb. — Kenny Towns drove in three runs, including the winner in the seventh, and Josh Sborz pitched four innings of shutout relief as Virginia defeated Florida 5-4 on Saturday night to set up a College World Series finals rematch against Vanderbilt.
Virginia (42-23), which lost 10-5 to Florida on Friday, took two of three CWS games against the Gators (52-18) and now has won eight of its nine NCAA Tournament games. The Cavaliers open the best-of-three finals against a Vanderbilt team that beat them in three games for the championship last year.
"They're all special, certainly, but this one's different," Cavaliers coach Brian O'Connor said. "How this team has navigated and what they've been through to get here is really, really special and memorable. They have a lot of pride in playing for each other. They're going to give it everything they've got. They're going to be prepared. And it's been a lot of fun to coach."
It will be the first CWS finals rematch since Oregon State beat North Carolina in 2006-07.
Sborz (6-2) ran his shutout innings streak to 23 since May 15, getting Richie Martin to ground out after Harrison Bader reached on a two-out single in the ninth. Danny Lewis (6-2) took the loss.
After second baseman Ernie Clement flipped the ball to shortstop Daniel Pinero for the final out, catcher Matt Thaiss ran to the mound and embraced Sborz and first baseman Pavin Smith and Towns, the first baseman, dashed across the diamond to do a jumping back bump.
"We're a really tough team," Towns said. "We're really resilient. When teams put some runs up on us, we come back and return the favor and give ourselves a chance to win some games."
The Cavaliers took the lead for good in a back-and-forth game after Lewis intentionally walked Thaiss to load the bases with one out in the seventh. Towns, Virginia's career leader in NCAA Tournament RBIs who hit a game-winning double against Arkansas earlier in the week, sent a sacrifice fly to right to bring home Clement.
Sborz, who hasn't allowed a run since the eighth inning against North Carolina over a month ago, allowed three hits in relief of Brandon Waddell.
Thaiss' homer in the first inning opened the scoring, but Peter Alonso answered with another majestic homer in the second to put the Gators up 2-1. Alonso, who hit a 421-foot homer against Miami for what was then the longest in TD Ameritrade Park history, sent a Waddell pitch 429 feet over the center-field wall after JJ Schwarz walked leading off.
After Pavin Smith tripled over center fielder Buddy Reed's head and scored on a sacrifice fly for Virginia in the fourth, Bader homered leading off the fifth to make it 3-2 Florida.
The Cavaliers went back ahead in the bottom half, with Thaiss, the catcher, scoring the go-ahead run from first on Towns' two-RBI double down the left-field line.
Florida tied it at 4 in the sixth on Mike Rivera's single off Sborz, who entered with none out after Schwarz singled off Waddell.
Monday: Vanderbilt vs. Virginia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Tuesday: Vanderbilt vs. Virginia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday (if necessary): Vanderbilt vs. Virginia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)