Buddy Reed’s walk off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning gave the No. 1 Florida Gators (11-1) a narrow 4-3 victory over the visiting Dartmouth Big Green (0-5).
Reed, who was hitless before the at bat but had walked three times, isn’t a power hitter, but jumped on the first fastball he saw and parked it over the scoreboard in right field for his first home run of the season.
“At first I thought it was a pop up,” Reed said of the home run. “ Thank the Lord. God is good.”
Junior left-hander A.J. Puk (0-1) earned the start for Florida. Puk’s lasted just 6.2 innings in his previous start and Kevin O’Sullivan was looking to get his Saturday starter going with a good outing.
Puk started strong with two strikeouts in a scoreless first inning and started the second off with two more strikeouts. Dartmouth first baseman Michael Ketchmark jumped on a first pitch fastball and deposited it into the left field bleachers to give the Big Green its first lead of the series.
“It was a little bit better,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of Puk’s outing. “He’s still not quite where he needs to be. I thought he threw some better sliders early in the count, threw some change ups better. It’s better it just needs to get a little bit better as we go along and I believe it will. He’s going to figure it out.”
Florida loaded the bases thanks to a single and two walks and knotted the score at one with JJ Schwarz’s sacrifice fly to left field but Dartmouth would strike again and re-take the lead in the fifth on a wild pitch. Another sacrifice fly, this time off the bat of Pete Alonso, would level the score again.
Puk had a better outing, lasting five innings, but still struggled with his command and gave up two runs. Brady Singer replaced Puk in the sixth inning. The freshman came into the game with runners on first and second and no outs. A sacrifice bunt left two runners in scoring position with just one out but the freshman reared back and got out of the jam unscathed.
“You gotta just kind of be a bulldog,” Singer said of his mentality coming into the jam. “You gotta bear down and work.”
The freshman continued a brilliant start to his career with a perfect three innings of work and three strikeouts. Florida went into the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead but Kirby Snead surrendered a two-out double and allowed Nate Ostmo to advance to third on a wild pitch before walking Joe Purritano.
O’Sullivan elected to go to the bullpen, bringing in Shaun Anderson. Anderson got Dustin Shirley to ground out to shortstop but Dalton Guthrie’s throw sailed and took Pete Alonso off the bag as Ostmo came in to score.
Anderson settled down and closed the game out without allowing a run. He worked three innings, struck out four and earned the win after Reed’s walk off home run.
Florida and Dartmouth will meet on Sunday at noon for the third and final game of the series. The game will have a travel time restriction and no new inning can start after 2:15 p.m.