Gators split doubleheader, claim series with Seton Hall
It was setting up to be a long day Saturday when the decision was made to move up Sunday's scheduled 1 p.m. game between Seton Hall and Florida to Saturday night because of the threat of rain. It got longer, as Seton Hall upset No. 2 Florida 3-2 in 13 innings at McKethan Stadium in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
Game 2 began at 8:45 p.m. and finished about 11:30 p.m. when the Gators claimed a 4-3 decision to win the series.
After falling into an early 1-0 deficit in the first game, a home run from junior Christian Hicks, a blast over the scoreboard in right field, drew Florida level with the Pirates.
Besides standing as his first home run of the season, the sixth-inning blast marked Hicks' first home run since his freshman season.
The Gators grabbed the lead in the sixth when Keenan Bell's booming shot to right field brought home junior Dalton Guthrie to put UF up 2-1.
But Seton Hall, less than 24 hours removed from being blanked 8-0 by Florida, wasn't going away without a fight.
The Pirates tied the game in the top of the ninth and UF failed to score, forcing extra innings.
In Florida's next at-bat, Guthrie appeared to get hit by a pitch from Seton Hall pitcher Ryan Testani. But the home-plate umpire ruled Guthrie leaned into the pitch, leading to an impassioned objection from UF skipper Kevin O'Sullivan. After pleading his case, O'Sullivan was ejected for the first time this season.
“We are trying to get our offense going,” O’Sullivan said. “It was frustrating today.”
The Pirates, meanwhile, were looking to close strong.
A sacrifice fly from senior Mike Caputo brought what would be the decisive run across the plate as Seton Hall tied the series at a game apiece.
After a 30-minute intermission, the Gators returned in new uniforms and with O’Sullivan back in tow, but Florida’s hitting woes continued.
UF didn’t get a hit until the fourth inning, while starting pitcher Brady Singer struggled to retire the Pirates.
Seton Hall (7-8) built a 3-0 lead by the third inning, but the Gators (12-5) weren’t ready to roll over and concede.
An RBI from Mark Koloszvary and a pair of home runs from Ryan Larson, his first homer since Feb. 14, 2015, pulled Florida even with the Pirates in the seventh inning.
“I wasn’t really worried about hitting home runs, just trying to help my team win,” Larson said. “I think we kind of let it slip away there. That shouldn’t happen.”
Kirby McMullen replaced Singer in the seventh and struck out five of the six batters he faced while not giving up a hit.
With the Pirates offense in a lull, the Gators capitalized.
A sacrifice fly from Jonathan India brought Guthrie across the plate, giving the Gators the lead for good.
After a brief appearance by Andrew Baker, the Gators brought sophomore Michael Byrne to the mound to navigate UF out of the game with one out and runners on first and second.
“I think when we fell behind 3-0 and they would have hung their heads, we probably wouldn’t have won,” O’Sullivan said. “So I think it’s a testament to our players. It was a long day, it was frustrating. But if they’d have hung their heads, we would have lost both games today.”
The Gators return to McKethan Stadium on Tuesday night for a match-up with No. 3 Florida State.
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