Ryan Larson stepped to the plate in the fifth inning holding a distinction he’d rather not be in ownership of. It had been 127 games since Larson had hit a home run, the longest drought of any hitter on the team. The senior hit a 2-1 fastball over the wall in left field to end the drought and clubbed another home run in the seventh to tie the game as the Florida Gators went on to win the series over Seton hall with a 4-3 win after dropping the first game 3-2.
Forecasted rain forced the Gators and Pirates to play a doubleheader on Saturday.
The first game saw Kevin O’Sullivan switch up his weekend rotation, opting to throw Sunday starter Jackson Kowar in the 4 pm slot. Kowar gave up a pair of singles in the first inning leading to a 1-0 Seton Hall lead. The teams traded zeroes until the fifth inning.
Florida tied the game in the fifth inning when Christian Hicks launched a solo home run to right field. The home run was Hicks’ first of the season. The Gators took the lead in the sixth when Keenan Bell doubled home Dalton Guthrie.
Kowar lasted 6.1, scattering five hits and walking three. He seemed to work in and out of trouble each inning, but was inline for the victory when he exited the game. Rubio replaced Kowar and needed just one pitch to induce an inning-ending double play.
Rubio worked a clean eighth and the Gators carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning. After a strikeout and a walk O’Sullivan pulled Rubio in favor of freshman Andrew Baker, but the rookie gave up a single to the only batter he would face before being pulled from the game. Tyler Dyson entered a tough spot with a one run lead and runners on the corners. Pirate second baseman Mike Caputo laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first base line to plate Joe Poduslenko, tying the game. Florida went down quietly in the ninth, sending both teams into their first extra inning games of the season.
Tempers flared in the tenth inning. With two outs Dalton Guthrie was hit by a pitch but home plate umpire Damien Beal ruled that Guthrie didn’t try to avoid getting hit and ordered him back into the box. Kevin O’Sullivan burst out of the dugout and, after a heated exchange, was ejected.
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) March 11, 2017
The teams traded zeroes in the 10th, 11th and 12th before Seton Hall pushed a run across in the 13th. Florida went down in order, unable to get anything going and dropped its first weekend game of the season.
After a four hour and three minute first game the teams had 45 minutes to collect themselves before the third and deciding game of the series.
Brady Singer took the mound for the Gators and the sophomore was in command early. Throwing 93-95, Singer kept his fastball down in the zone and was painting the corners. Singer retired the first six batters he faced, striking out three. Unfortunately, the Gator bats were silent early, sending 12 batters to the plate before recording a hit.
Singer’s strong start hit a massive speed bump in the third. Seton Hall started with back-to-back singles before Rod Dadona laid down a sacrifice bunt. Singer fielded the bunt cleanly but his throw to first sailed, allowing Mike Alescio to score. Al Molina doubled four pitches later, playing two more for a 3-0 Pirate lead.
Larson’s solo home run gave the Gators life in the fifth. They pulled within one in the sixth. Mark Kolozsvary stepped into the box with runners on second and third and two outs. Kolozsvary grounded the ball sharply to third and both runners took off. Seton hall third baseman Connor Hood saw Mike Rivera barreling towards him and froze. Rivera put on the breaks and ran back to second. While Hood was chasing Rivera Guthrie scored, a mistake turned into a heads up baseball play that helped Florida win the game.
Larson hit his second home run of the game in the seventh, another solo shot, to tie the game and Florida took the lead in the eighth when Guthrie scored on a Jonathan India sacrifice fly.
No. 2 Florida improves to 12-5 on the season and will host No. 3 Florida State (13-2, 2-1 ACC) at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday night.