Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan. [AP Photo/Matt Stamey]

Gators Handled By Hatters 7-4 On The Road

DELAND — Gators fans travel well, helping the Hatters set a single-game attendance record of 2,986 at Melching Field on Tuesday night.

The Gators didn’t help themselves on the field, however, striking out a season-high 11 times and stranding 10 runners on base that proved the difference against the Stetson Hatters in losing 7-4.

The Hatters move to 5-3 on the season and the No. 4 Gators fall to 5-2.

Freshman Jitters

Freshman right-hander Luke McNeillie struggled in his debut, working the bases loaded before recording an out.

From there, Stetson jumped on the young pitcher by plating five runs off four hits, forcing Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan to reach into his bullpen before McNeille could finish the inning at 40 pitches.

Slate and Smith Sweep Up

Junior right-hander Ryan Slater took over on the mound to stop the bleeding. Slater held the line, tossing three innings to stun the Hatters, giving up just one hit and three strikeouts before handing the ball over to freshman Grayson Smith in the fourth inning.

Smith did his job, tossing 21/3  innings, collecting two strikeouts as the Gators continued to hold the Hatters at 5-4 into the seventh.

Not productive

It seemed like the Gators were due for a possible cold night in the strikeout column, after recording just 33 strikeouts in the previous six games.

Second baseman Armando Albert and shortstop Colby Shelton were the only Gators to record multiple hits with two a piece, as the Gators collected eight hits.

After striking out eight times to start the game (season high before even getting half way through the game), the Gators woke up in the third inning.

Catcher Luke Heyman and right fielder Ty Evans erupted for a two-run homer a piece, cutting Florida’s deficit to 5-4. 

The Gators kept pressing the Hatters at the plate, but couldn’t convert in the middle innings leaving five of the 10 runners in scoring position.

The Gators notched eight hits, but failed to string anything together.

Tip of The Hat

Gators star closer Brandon Neely got squeezed in the inning after the first two runners reached base. Stetson strung together three hits and two walks off the righty to put two more runs on the board for the 7-4 decision.

Up Next

The Gators have a quick turn around, heading back home to host another in-state opponent in the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (4-3) on Wednesday in Condron Family Ballpark at 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+, ESPN Gainesville 98.1-FM/AM-850 WRUF).

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