The Gator baseball team bounced back Saturday night, winning the second leg of a doubleheader after dropping the first game to take the series against the Seton Hall Pirates. Seton Hall won the first game 3-2 in 13 innings, while the Gators took the rubber match 4-3. Florida sits at 12-5 after the series while Seton Hall drops to 7-8.
In a 13 inning low-scoring affair that lasted over four hours, Seton Hall came up with timely runs to hand the Gators their third loss of the week and their second at McKethan Stadium.
Ryan Testani (1-0) earned the win for the Pirates, pitching six scoreless innings in relief while giving up just three hits. Garrett Milchin (1-1) took the loss for Florida, allowing one run, the game winner, in three innings of work while giving up three hits and two walks. Anthony Pacillo got the save for Seton Hall, striking two of the three batters he faced in the bottom of the 13th inning.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) March 11, 2017
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan switched up the rotation due to Sunday’s game being moved to Saturday night which created the double-header. Jackson Kowar, who usually starts on Sunday, took the mound in the early game Saturday, while Brady Singer, the usual Saturday starter, started the late game. Kowar gave up just one run in 6.1 innings while allowing five hits and striking out three batters. Seton Hall started Zach Prendergast, who lasted six innings, giving up eight hits that led to two runs.
Seton Hall got on the scoreboard first in the top of the first inning. Center fielder Ryan Ramiz, who had a good day at the plate going 3-for-5, singled a 1-0 pitch from Kowar to right field that brought home lead-off hitter Rob Dadona to give Seton Hall the early lead.
Florida scored the next two runs, scoring one each in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth inning, first baseman Christian Hicks stepped up to bat with two outs, and launched the first pitch he saw deep over the right field fence. The solo shot marked his first home run of the year and just his third RBI of the young season, tying up the game 1-1.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) March 11, 2017
In the following inning, designated hitter Keenan Bell gave the Gators their only lead of the game. He took a 2-2 pitch with two runners on base and doubled to right field. The extra base hit scored Dalton Guthrie, who in addition to the run went 3-for-6 at the plate, and gave Florida the 2-1 lead.
Florida Unable to Hang On
It seemed like that may have been enough for Florida to win, but Seton Hall second baseman Mike Caputo drove home one of his two RBI in the game with one out in the ninth. Caputo squeezed home a run to tie the game. Caputo’s second RBI of the game ended up being the game-winner in the top of the 13th inning as his sacrifice fly allowed Dadona to score his second run of the game and give Seton Hall the 3-2 lead, a lead that Pacillo was able to protect in the bottom half of the inning to give the Pirates the road upset win.
The Gators scored four runs on just four hits, but a run in each inning from the fifth through the eighth innings was enough to give them the 4-3 win and the series win.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) March 12, 2017
Singer took the mound for Florida looking to give them the series but saw his night end with Seton Hall in the lead. He threw 93 pitches in 6.0 innings, giving up three runs, two of them earned, and five hits while also striking out five batters.
Instead it was Kirby McMullen (1-0) who earned the win for the Gators, who struck out five while allowing no hits in 2.1 innings. Michael Byrne got the save for Florida and Andrew Politi took the loss for Seton Hall, as he allowed the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Like in the first game, Seton Hall jumped out to an early lead, scoring all three of their runs in the third inning.
It started on a throwing error from Singer that allowed Seton Hall right fielder Mike Alescio to score the first run of the game. The very next batter, Dadona, hit an RBI ground out to second base that scored catcher Chris Villa. The Pirates scored their final run of the inning and the game on the following at bat, as shortstop Al Molina doubled a 1-2 pitch down the left field line that scored third baseman Connor Hood.
Gators Offense Shows Up
The Gators responded though, and their comeback started in the fifth inning.
Florida’s first run came via an unlikely source, as right fielder Ryan Larson launched a solo homer into left field. It was the first home run for Larson in over two years, but it was a clutch moment to break that drought.
That's Ryan Larson's first home run since 2/14/15 (vs Rhode Island) 127 games played in between home runs, longest streak n the team.
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) March 12, 2017
Third baseman Jonathan India scored on a fielder’s choice in the sixth inning, and then in the seventh inning, irony struck. Larson, the guy who hadn’t hit a homer since Valentine’s Day 2015, hit his second home run of the game, this one also to left field after he crushed a one out, full count pitch to tie the game at 3-3.
Just like Seton Hall did in the first game, the Gators scored the game winning run on a sacrifice fly, this one coming from India in the bottom of the eighth inning. He struck the first pitch he saw into left field, and it gave Guthrie enough time to come home and give the Gators the 4-3 lead.
Florida survived a little bit of a scare in the top of the ninth as Seton Hall looked to force extra innings again. McMullen walked a batter with one out and was relieved by freshman Andrew Baker who gave up a hit to the only batter he faced, and he was pulled for Byrne. Byrne proceeded to close the deal for Florida by striking out the next two batters and clinching the series for the Gators.
The Gators will host arch rival Florida State on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.