A 1-2 fastball in the top of the 12th inning left Brady Singer’s hand hissing at 100 MPH only to be turned around for a single by Georgia’s Nick King, scoring Stephen Wrenn from third base. That RBI gave Georgia (21-18, 7-9) a 2-1 lead and, ultimately, a win over the Florida Gators (34-6, 11-5) on Thursday night.
More than a dozen Major League scouts were in attendance, radar guns in tote, to see what was billed as a pitching showcase between two potential first round picks in the MLB Draft — Florida’s A.J. Puk and Georgia’s Robert Tyler.
Puk surrendered a leadoff single and a walk before returning the next three batters in order to get out of the first. Tyler wasn’t so lucky. Deacon Liput laced a one out fastball down the right field line for a double and scored two batters later when JJ Schwarz singled through the right side.
Puk settled in. The towering lefty retired 18 batters, nine by way of strikeout, to keep the Gators’ lead all the way into the seventh inning.
“That’s the best that A.J. Puk has thrown all year, so I was pleased with that. I think that’s the best that Robert Tyler has thrown all year, as well,” O’Sullivan said after the game. “He [Tyler] was hitting all of his pitches. He had three pitches working, was hard to run on and was quick to the plate. I thought both guys deserved the chance to win the ballgame.”
Puk’s consecutive batters retired streak came to an end with Trevor Kieboom’s double to start the seventh. Puk swiftly retired the next two before Daniel Nichols deposited a high fastball into right field for a RBI ground-rule double. The game now tied, Kevin O’Sullivan turned to his bullpen.
After a rocky first, Tyler lived up to his end of the pitching showcase, stifling Florida hitters with a 116-pitch outing, striking out nine, scattering eight hits and walking just one. Both starters threw gems, neither would factor into the decision.
Florida used six pitchers, with closer Shaun Anderson going a season-high 2.2 inning and 55 pitches. It was Georgia that would score the final run, handing the Gators a loss and dealing a blow that was hard to swallow.
“We scored in the first and we got shut out for 11 straight innings. We’ve got to figure out another way to score a run. I’m disappointed, honestly. Credit to their pitchers, but if we want to advance in the postseason then we need to figure out a way to score another run.”
Florida will throw Logan Shore (7-0, 2.50 ERA) against Georgia lefty Connor Jones (5-2, 5.08 ERA) on Friday night at 7 pm.