When two top-five teams play, one or two errors can be the difference. On Saturday, the number five Florida Gators took advantage of a handful of errors by number three Alabama. By the end of the game, the Gators put up nine runs, and the defense only allowed two.
The win, combined with Friday night’s 2-0 victory, pushed the Gators to another SEC series victory this season.
Despite the 9-2 score, the Crimson Tide and the Gators fought tooth and nail for the majority of the contest.
In the third inning, the top of the lineup for the Florida Gators provided its usual heroics. Cheyenne Lindsey, batting second in the lineup, drove home Hannah Adams on a double. Next batter up, Charla Echols matched Lindsey’s output with a double of her own.
The Gators scoring the first run in a game seems to serve them well. Including Saturday, the Gators are 27-1 when they score first in a game. If the opposition scores first, they are just 5-4.
However, the 2-0 lead would not last for long.
While Friday’s win showcased Florida’s efficient and effective defense, confusion tied the game in the fourth inning. Kaylee Tow’s singled up the middle with runners on first and second, but Florida elected to find the out at second, rather than attempt a throw home to prevent the run.
Confusion and mishaps would seem to be a theme in this game. Although, the fortunate bounces would begin to favor the Gators.
Alabama Errors Lead to Runs
Following Alabama’s game-tying bottom of the fourth inning, they would hand runs right back.
With one out in the top of the fifth inning, Alabama pitchers lost their control. A combined three wild pitches between Krystal Goodman and Sarah Cornell scored Charla Echols from first. Kali Reis replaced Echols, who walked to get aboard, but in the end it may not have mattered.
Three wild pitches effectively gifted the Gators a run.
However, Alabama mistakes did not reserve themselves for the pitchers. An inning later, a two-out error on a Hannah Adams grounder bumped Avery Goelz over to third. Cheyenne Lindsey, now gifted with an opportunity, hit a blooper to left-center field that went in-and-out of the shortstop’s glove. The two errors scored Goelz, but the damage was not done yet.
After an intentional walk to Charla Echols, Alabama faced a bases-loaded situation for Kendyl Lindaman. The senior sent the first pitch she saw well-over the left-field fence to blow the game wide open.
The two errors in the inning meant that the five runs scored were all unearned.
In the seventh inning, two more mishaps led to another unearned run. A two-out error on a Jaimie Hoover grounder put runners on first and second before Hannah Adams walked. Unbelievably, another wild pitch allowed Sarah Longley to coast home to push the Gators lead to seven.
For those keeping score, the Crimson Tide had four wild pitches in addition to three errors. Officially, Florida only earned three of their nine runs, with one of those coming on a wild pitch.
Shutting it Down
Natalie Lugo got the start in the circle for the Gators. The senior picked up where Elizabeth Hightower finished yesterday.
Lugo allowed only four hits to go along with the two aforementioned runs. She picked up the win, making her the second pitcher on the staff to reach double digit wins (Hightower, 15).
In relief, Katie Chronister took the reigns. The fifth-year lefty stymied any attempts from Alabama, pitching the final three innings and allowed zero hits with three strikeouts. The only blemish was one intentional walk.
A clean game with no errors defensively protected the Gators’ large lead.
The Gators are now five-for-five in SEC series this year, but this one might be the most significant. Alabama is Florida’s highest-ranked opponent this season, and this is in Tuscaloosa.
Tim Walton’s club will have a chance for the sweep Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. on SEC Network.