Pete Alonso lived out a childhood dream on Friday night, his 10th inning bases loaded single delivering a 4-3 extra inning win for the Florida Gators (19-1, 1-0 SEC) over the visiting Missouri Tigers (14-6, 0-1 SEC).
“Everyone wants to come up in the clutch situation and get the game winning hit,” Alonso said. “That’s something that you dream of as a kid.”
Florida came out hot against Missouri redshirt senior starter Reggie McClain, who entered the game with a 0.85 ERA. Dalton Guthrie lined a ball back up the middle to lead off and advanced to second on a JJ Schwarz single. Freshman Deacon Liput followed a Pete Alonso fly out with a two-out single to right field to open the scoring. Liput has reached base safely in all 20 games this season. Mike Rivera followed Liput with a single to center field, scoring both Schwarz and Liput to give the Gators a 3-0 lead. McClain had allowed just three earned runs in his previous 32.1 innings before Florida tagged him for three runs, two earned in the top of the first.
McClain settled down after the first and ended up throwing a gem, one that was matched step-by-step from Logan Shore.
Florida’s junior ace allowed a lead off single in the first and then sat down 11 batters in a row, eight by way of strikeout. Zach Lavy broke that streak when he drove a high fastball over Buddy Reed’s head in center field, missing a home run by a foot. Lavy’s two-out triple trimmed Florida’s lead when Shane Benes drove him in just five pitches later.
Shore worked out of the jam in the fourth giving up just the one run before finding himself in trouble again in the sixth. Shore struck out Jake Ring, setting a career-high in strikeouts with 10 to start the frame but a Trey Harris double chased Shore, who had run his pitch count up to 92 pitches. Kirby Snead, who leads the Gators with 11 appearances this season. Lavy bested the Gators again with a RBI single into right, trimming Florida’s lead to just one.
McClain settled in, inducing three double plays and kept Florida off balance all night. The veteran kept his pitch count down, allowing him to stay into the game late, ultimately going nine innings, scattering nine hits with eight strikeouts.
Despite being in an early hole the Tigers never wavered in confidence. Their dugout was into the game until the very end and it paid dividends when Missouri was able to get to freshman Brady Singer in the ninth to tie the game.
Shaun Anderson entered in the tenth and struck out the side. Missouri went to the bullpen with Brian Sharp. Sharp sandwiched a ground out and fly out between three walks. That set the stage for Alonso, who took the count full before driving a ball on the ground through the left side.
“It’s no fun walking a run in to win,” Alonso joked. “I was just looking for a fastball that I could handle and square up. I almost forgot what a walk off felt like,” Alonso said. “My last one was my sophomore year of high school.”
Florida’s 4-3 win on Friday is its 13th in a row this season and 21st consecutive home win dating back to last season. Shaun Anderson earned the win.
Florida and Missouri will get back at it Saturday at 7 pm with left-hander A.J. Puk facing off against Missouri right-hander Tanner Houck.