Dalton makes Mizzou pay for walking India, Gators win 3-1

The move made sense, when Jonathan India walked to the plate. The junior had already extended his hitting streak to 21 games and is one of the hottest hitters in the country. Why pitch to him when the guy behind him is 0-3 with two strikeouts?

You don’t and Missouri didn’t.

Wil Dalton’s two-RBI double off the left field wall that gave Florida a 3-1 win, will make them think twice about that decision the rest of the weekend.

“India is the best hitter in the country right there,” Dalton said. “I would expect pretty much everybody in the SEC to do it no matter who they’re throwing. That kid has proven to everyone that he can hit anybody and everything.”

That doesn’t mean he likes it. Dalton spoke about having it happen to him throughout his sophomore season in high school when a senior who is now playing in the Mets organization hit before him. It happened last weekend in Knoxville, too.

So when Jonathan India, possibly the hottest hitter in the country, came up to the plate in a tie game and a runner in scoring position, then watched the first pitch be called a ball, Dalton already knew what the deal was. Missouri catcher Brett Bond stood up extended his right arm out and signaled for the intentional pass.

“I tried to tell myself to calm down because obviously it does piss you off,” Dalton said of having someone intentionally walked in front of him. “In this game they call it an insult at times but you have to tip your hat.”

On top of that, Dalton was 0-3 on the night and completely overmatched in his third at bat. In the past Dalton has spend long nights alone in the batting cages hitting off of a machine after at bats like that or even 1-4 games where he didn’t like the contact he made. He’s hard on himself, something his coaches and even teammates have seen. Baseball is a hard enough game as it is without your beating yourself up, so it’s something the staff brings up and something Dalton is constantly trying to work on.

“As I’ve matured even just this season I’ve had Brad Weitzel talk to me about the mental part of baseball and back last year I told (Weitzel) that I probably don’t come in and get that hit,” he said. “Maturity wise I would beat myself up about old at bats or the pitch before.”

Dalton’s double gave Florida the lead in what was a tightly contested game for eight innings.

Brady Singer took a 7-1 record into Friday night’s start but was uncharacteristically wild in the first inning. Singer walked the first two batters he faced. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over and a groundout gave Missouri a 1-0 lead. That’s not what Singer was looking for but Nelson Maldonado picked him up with a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning.

Then both pitchers threw up zeroes until the Gators’ scored in the eighth.

“It was just an unbelievable game,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I think it was 6,200 people here, the second largest crowd. And a typical Friday night game in our league. Two really good starters. Brady really struggled the first couple of innings but for him to go seven innings really saved our bullpen.”

Florida and Missouri will pick up the series Saturday at 4 pm. Due to forecasted rain on Sunday the teams will play a double header with the series finale starting 45 minutes after the first game Saturday.

Notes:

Jonathan India extended his career-best hitting streak to 21 games.

Austin Langworthy has hit safely in 10-straight games

Tonight’s attendance was 6,214, the second most for a game ever at McKethan stadium.

This is the second fastest the Gators (30-6) have reached 30 wins. The 2016 ballclub did so one game faster (30-5)

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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