When the offense isn’t going on all cylinders, fundamental baseball is the key to success. The Gators forgot about that in the 9th inning of Friday night’s game to Arkansas and blew a perfect opportunity to tie the game, losing 2-1 in front of crowd of 3,523 at McKethan Stadium.
With Florida down 2-1 going into the 9th inning, Arkansas starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel wanted the complete game. He started the inning by giving up only his sixth hit of the game to Florida freshman Josh Adams who doubled to the left-center field wall. Adams reached second base clapping his hands and looking to the Florida dugout to rally the troops. But apparently they missed the sign.
Dustin Bamberg followed by fouling off two pitches, and eventually striking out on a pitch in the dirt.
“We had a runner at second with Bamberg up and he was throwing the ball on the outer half,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He gives you three cracks to try and drive him in and all you have to do is hit a ground ball to the right side. It’s not like he was pitching on both sides of the plate. Too big of swings with two strikes to be honest with you.”
Matt den Dekker followed with one out by fighting a few pitches off, but eventually striking out looking for the second out of the inning.
“den Dekker’s got to do a better job,” O’Sullivan said. “He can’t go down looking there. If you swing and miss that’s one thing, but you’ve got to give yourself a chance. Nothing good can happen when you leave the bat on your shoulder.
Jonathan Pigott followed by grounding out to second base for the final out of the game.
The lack of offense by the Gators stole a win from Billy Bullock, who went 6.1 innings allowing one run. The one run Bullock allowed was to leadoff hitter Logan Forsythe, who started the game with a walk. He then reached second base on a sacrifice bunt by Sean Jones. Bullock balked to move Forsythe to third base, and he scored on a ground out by Ben Tschepikow. Bullock faulted himself for allowing the runner to move up on his balk.
“If I don’t screw up in the first, we’re still playing,” Bullock said. “I gave up a run without giving up a hit. We had a game plan coming in and I didn’t execute it. Cole (Figueroa) told me to step off and…I just screwed it up.”
The other run Arkansas scored came off a tape-measure shot in the 8th inning off the bat of designated hitter Jeff Nutt. Florida reliever Josh Edmondson missed a spot and Nutt deposited it over the Arkansas bullpen in right-center field.
“We missed a spot,” O’Sullivan said. “We don’t want to get beat in late in the game. He’s been fairly consistent. I didn’t think his outing was all that bad, he just threw one pitch he probably wants back.”
The Gators started and ended their scoring in the 3rd inning with two outs. Teddy Foster reached on a throwing error by the third baseman and stole his third base of the season to reach second base. Avery Barnes reached on an infield single to first base which advanced Foster to third. Jon Townsend then hit a line drive up the middle to plate Foster. The lone Florida run was their ninth in the last three games.
The Gators look to get back on track Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Junior Patrick Keating is slated to start for the Gators. Everyone who attends the Orange and Blue Game is allowed in free if they present their ticket stub.