The No. 20 Florida Gator baseball team (20-12, 7-5 SEC) suffered a series defeat to No. 19 Kentucky (22-10, 6-6 SEC) after falling 9-8 in the final game of the series on Sunday.
The game was tied 2-2 early after the Wildcats scored single runs in the second and third and the Gators scored two in the third on a two run double by shortstop Richie Martin. Martin then singled in a run in the fifth to give UF a 3-2 lead but that’s when the Wildcats rallied with a seven run sixth inning.
UF lefty Bobby Poyner (3-3) replaced reliever Justin Shafer on the mound in the fifth and the Wildcats proceeded to score all their runs with two outs off of Poyner and reliever Shaun Anderson. A three run homer by third baseman Max Kuhn and an RBI triple by catcher Michael Thomas were key hits for Kentucky in the inning.
But the Gators would claw back into the game with a five run eighth inning. Martin led off with a single and Harrison Bader singled. Taylor Gushue plated a run with a base hit and Braden Mattson scored another run on a sacrifice fly. Pinch hitter A.J. Puk singled and designated hitter Pete Alonso followed with a long three run homer to close the gap to 9-8.
Bader became the tying runner in top of the ninth after ripping a two-out single but Gushue popped out to end the game.
Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan says he was happy his team fought till the end.
“I’m really pleased with how we battled back. We made it an interesting game there. The only thing you can do is try to get the tying run to the plate. We had the winning run at the plate with Gushue, the guy you probably want in that situation,” said O’Sullivan.
The Gators now sit on top with South Carolina in first place in the Eastern Division with a 7-5 record. With three games of an eight-game road trip under their belt, the Gators will play Florida State Tuesday before entering a three-game weekend series against South Carolina.
To hear audio from Coach O’Sullivan click below: