Baserunning blunders sink Florida Gators

Benito Santiago line a ball into the left center gap and Justin Ammons rounded third. Ryan Larson got a good jump and was able to cut the ball off before it reached the outfield wall. In one fluid motion, Larson scooped the ball, turned his body around and fired a strike to Dalton Guthrie, who was six steps onto the outfield grass. Guthrie mishandled the transition and Ammons scored to give Tennessee a 3-2 lead in the tenth.

That may have been the nail in the coffin for the game and series, but it wasn’t the Gators shot themselves in the foot before the tenth inning with base running and before the game even began when Kevin O’Sullivan announced that three players were suspended.

The game began with news that Jonathan India, Deacon Liput and JJ Schwarz would not be in the lineup due to a violation of unspecified team rules. The three starters had combined to make 86 starts this season.

“They’ll play tomorrow,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game before he was pressed for more details on why the trio was suspended. “It’s just team rules. That’s all.”

Coming off of back-to-back complete games Brady Singer took the mound Saturday night looking to settle the series score at a game apiece. The sophomore needed just 12 pitches to retire the first three batters in the first inning and just eight to get out of he second, despite allowing a two-out single.

In Florida’s half of the second inning Larson hit a one-out single bringing Christina Hicks up to the plate. Sully put on a hit-and-run, which Hicks executed perfectly, slapping a ball through the right side behind Larson, but the senior stopped at second. The mental error didn’t result in an out, but Larson knew he should be standing on third base, not second. When Mark Kolozsvary singled to left, Larson should have scored, instead he was now standing on third.

“I turned around and didn’t pick up the ball,” Larson said after the game. “I didn’t see where it was.”

Freshman Garrett Milchin grounded into an inning ending double play to end the threat.

The Gators were able to plate two runs and retake the lead in the fourth inning. Larson (3-5) singled up the middle and scored when Kolozsvary tripled to center. Milchin singled up the middle to plate Kolozsvary and take the lead. Florida had a chance to extend the lead in the fifth inning before the base running bugaboo crept back into the picture.

Blake Reese singled and moved to second on Mike Rivera’s single. Nelson Maldonado blooped a ball into shallow right field where Dom Thornton was playing unusually deep. Reese didn’t check the depth of the outfielders before taking his lead so his first three steps were back to the bag at second. Craig Bell was giving Reese the go ahead to score, but had to throw a stop sign up when Reese was late off of contact, resulting in Reese slipping and getting caught in a rundown between third and home, out, no run.

“I don’t think there really should have been a mix-up at all because the right fielder’s playing so deep, as soon as the ball was hit you knew it wasn’t going to get caught. So there wouldn’t have been any decision at all whether to send him or hold him up,” O’Sullivan said. “As soon it left the bat you knew it was going to drop in front, he should have just had a better jump and it wouldn’t have been close.”

Florida will look to avoid being swept at home on Sunday at 1 pm. Jackson Kowar will start for Florida, Tennessee has not named a starting pitcher.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC