After losing to Kentucky and being sent to the losers bracket on Wednesday, the Florida baseball team got its shot at UK again Saturday evening. The Gators edged the Wildcats in a 6-5 SEC tournament semifinal thriller. It gave Florida 40 wins on the year, the fifth time that has been done by Gator head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
Much like Wednesday’s matchup against Kentucky, Florida had to play from behind. The Wildcats reached the board early with a run in the first followed by a two run second inning. Down 3-0, the Gators responded in the third. Florida’s Casey Turgeon and Richie Martin each batted in a run in the inning cutting the lead to 3-2.
On the hill to start the game for Florida was Brett Morales. It didn’t take long for Morales to leave the mound, throwing just 1.1 innings while allowing three runs. Eric Hanhold picked up his fourth win of the season, dealing 3.1 innings of relief, striking out four.
Florida’s Harrison Bader continued his hot hitting with a 3 for 4 day at the plate. Bader is batting .625 in the SEC tournament. However it was two unlikely heroes that made the difference for Florida in the game. With the game tied in the top of the eighth, UF’s Josh Tobias drove in freshman Ryan Larson to give Florida the game’s final run, finishing off the Cats 6-5.
Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan was happy with how his team played.
“I thought it was a great game. Kentucky has had our number this year. They have a real chance in a regional. They have one of the best lineups in the league. We knew it was going to be a fight all the way to the end. Our guys fought. I think every starter got a hit. Harrison (Bader) had three and led our team with the three RBIs. Josh Tobias went 2-for-3 driving in the go-ahead run in the eighth. I thought Kirby Snead really settled things down for us. Eric (Hanhold) was really good at the end of the game. We are excited to play one more day. We are looking forward to it.”
The Gators now look ahead to today’s SEC championship against LSU. The Tigers have outscored their last seven opponents 85-8, and will be looking to get payback at a Florida squad that swept them in Gainesville. First pitch is set for 4:30, listen in to the Gator IMG Sports Network where Mick Hubert and Jeff Cardozo will have the call.