Florida outfielder Nick Horvath (26) and Nelson Maldonado (27) both try to catch a ball throw at them by a teammate during the second game of the weekend series against Miami at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville Saturday Feb. 25, 2017.
Gators drop consecutive games to FGCU
The No. 2 Florida baseball team’s hitting woes continued Wednesday night when the Gators' comeback fell just short in a 3-2 loss to Florida Gulf Coast in Gainesville.
A night after falling 7-3 to the Eagles (12-2) in Fort Myers, the Gators (10-4) looked impressive from the opening stretch.
Florida got the scoring started in the first inning as sophomore Blake Reese scored on a wild pitch from Eagles junior right-handed pitcher Peyton Gray.
But after the shaky start, Gray wouldn’t give up a hit before exiting in the seventh inning. FGCU’s bats, however, had no trouble making contact on Florida’s pitches. Six hits in as many innings helped solidify the win for the Eagles.
“I thought we got off to a good start,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We got on the board there in the first, but just did not make any adjustments.”
In his first career start, freshman left-hander Austin Langworthy (0-1) lasted until midway through the fourth inning. In addition to two strikeouts and two walks, the Williston native gave up all three runs on five hits.
Looking to slow the bleeding, right-handed freshman Kirby McMullen entered in relief of Langworthy and struck out four FGCU batters while giving up a lone hit.
Freshman Tyler Dyson, who didn’t become a pitcher until prior to his senior year of high school, closed the game for the Gators.
“If I go into close games, my mentality is to just shut it down and not let the offense get anything going,” Dyson said. “I just want to end the game if I’m a closer. I just want to help my team win the game.”
A solo home run to deep left-center field from junior JJ Schwarz, his first of the season, brought Florida to within one in the bottom of the ninth inning, but UF’s comeback would come up just short.
With the winning run on base, sophomore infielder Jonathan India connected on a pitch that was within several feet of giving Florida the walk-off win.
But Eagles center fielder Gage Morey made a diving catch at the wall to end the inning and give FGCU the two-game series sweep.
“Home runs come when you least expect it, and when you’re not trying to,” Schwarz said. “That was a big relief, yeah, but I’d rather get out and have a win than have a home run and get a loss.”
Florida returns Friday at 6:30 p.m. to McKethan Stadium for a weekend series with Seton Hall.
“Teams go through this, players go through difficult stretches,” O’Sullivan said. “We just so happened to go through it to start the season.”
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