Omaha, Neb. It turned out Adrian Alaniz's finger was fine.
Texas' pitching plans for Game 1 of the College World Series championship round hinged on a blister on the middle finger of Alaniz's right hand.
After he combined with J. Brent Cox on a four-hitter in the Longhorns' 4-2 victory over Florida on Saturday night, he laughed when asked about it.
"For one thing, the blister was not a factor. It healed over throughout the week and didn't bother me at all," Alaniz said.
The Longhorns (55-16), who won the last of their five national titles in 2002, can clinch the championship with another victory over the Gators (48-22) today. If necessary, Game 3 of the series would be Monday.
Alaniz (8-3), whose availability for the game wasn't known until Saturday, turned in his second strong outing in the CWS. He had allowed one run in seven innings of a 5-1 victory over Baylor in the Longhorns' opener a week ago.
"Already having that Baylor game under my belt gave me a lot of confidence," Alaniz said. "I wasn't even nervous. With the big crowd, that's kind of unusual. But I was so zoned in that it was like tunnel vision."
Alaniz and Cox got offensive support from Will Crouch and David Maroul, who both homered.
Alaniz turned the game over to Cox in the eighth with runners on first and second. Then, the Longhorns had to withstand some anxious moments.
Cox, making his CWS-record 12th appearance, struck out Jeff Corsaletti and Adam Davis before Matt LaPorta's two-run single pulled the Gators within 4-2. Cox got out of the jam after walking the bases loaded by striking out Brian Leclerc.
"He's one of the best closers in the country, and I thought we were going to get to him," LaPorta said. "It just didn't go our way."
Cox struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 18th save, which leads the nation.
"I knew that I had to get it done one way or another," Cox said. "The strikeouts were a blessing. I was looking for groundball outs any way I could. Luckily, it went my way."
Texas coach Augie Garrido said he was impressed with Cox's response to his rocky eighth inning.
"He did a remarkable job coming out ready to pitch the next inning and not taking any of the negatives he faced in the first inning he pitched," Garrido said. "That, to me, was the most remarkable thing of the night."
The Longhorns, not known for their power, rapped their 53rd and 54th homers in 71 games. Maroul's two-run homer in the fourth put the Longhorns up 4-0 against a Florida team short of pitching options.
Gators coach Pat McMahon started freshman left-hander Stephen Locke (5-2), who hadn't appeared since a May 25 regular-season game against Arkansas.
The Gators were put in their predicament after Alan Horne injured his left hamstring in Wednesday's game against Arizona State. That forced starter Tommy Boss to pitch 52â3 innings of relief, and he couldn't come back on short rest.
"Stephen was the guy we wanted on the mound, and there are no second thoughts about it," McMahon said. "The way things turned out, we were one pitch or one swing from the whole game being changed."