The top-seeded Florida Gators dropped their opening game in the SEC Tournament to the red hot Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 4-2 on Wednesday. Florida’s tournament run is not over yet, as the double elimination format gives the Gators a chance to make a run through the loser’s bracket.
Freshman ace Logan Shore toed the rubber for the Gators and pitched better than his line would show. The first inning started off rocky for the freshman right-hander as the Wildcats were able to work deep into counts and force Shore to throw 35 pitches in the opening frame.
Wildcat leadoff man Austin Cousino set the tone with a 10-pitch walk to start the game. Max Kuhn followed the walk with a single before Shore recorded the first out of the game via strikeout. Left fielder Ka’ai Tom doubled to left-center to score the first run of the game and Thomas Bernal’s sacrifice fly two pitches later made the Florida deficit two.
Florida went quietly in their half of the first inning before striking back in the second. Braden Mattson led the inning off with a double and was moved over by a ground out from Zack Powers. Peter Alonso grounded out to score Mattson and halve the Wildcat lead.
Shore got back into trouble in the third when he plunked Cousino to give Kentucky a man on and no outs. Cousino advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on Shore’s first balk of the season. Both plays would prove to be inconsequential as Max Kuhn sent Shore’s next offering high and deep into the Hoover, Alabama sky for a two-run home run, extending Kentucky’s lead to 4-1. It was the first home run that Shore has allowed all season long.
Florida would score a run in the sixth off of a Mattson sacrifice fly that plated Richie Martin and would continue to threaten in the game. No threat was more real than the eighth inning.
Casey Turgeon drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a Martin single. With two runners on and no outs, Harrison Bader did the only thing he couldn’t do, ground into a double play. Taylor Gushue grounded out on the very next pitch and just like that Florida went from having the tying run on base to three outs away from a loss.
Kentucky held on to win their second game in as many days and will play the winner of South Carolina-Mississippi State. The Gators will face the loser of that game at some point tomorrow afternoon; the game time is still to be determined but should start around 1:30 p.m. EST.
• Harrison Bader is on a 5-game hitting streak after going 2-4 on the day.
• Braden Mattson finished the game 1-3 with a RBI and Florida’s only extra base hit of the afternoon.
• Kirby Snead threw two innings of shutout baseball in his first ever appearance at the SEC Tournament.
• Florida is 55-57 all-time at the SEC Tournament.