Quite simply, if you don’t keep the opposing baseball team scoreless for more than four innings, chances are you will be enduring a long afternoon.
Ask the Florida Gators, who came into the weekend 5-0 and left it 5-3 after the Miami Hurricanes completed a three-game sweep with a 16-2 victory before 3,038 fans at McKethan Stadium.
Not a whole lot went right for the Gators.
“(It’s disappointing) to say the least,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I really didn’t see this one coming to that. I thought we’d come out and play well. I’m not quite sure I remember a game like this in a long time.”
The first three innings couldn’t have gone any smoother. Freshman left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde wasn’t as sharp as last weekend, but he pitched around a few runners to keep his team in the game.
As they did in earlier 8-5 and 2-1 losses to the Hurricanes (6-1) during the series, Florida’s bats continued to struggle. Florida only managed four hits. Miami had nine runners on base alone during a seven-run fourth inning.
Maronde gave up a leadoff home run to Harold Martinez that just cleared the fence in left field. Dave DiNatale followed with a single to center. Maronde then hit Chris Herrmann with a pitch while he was attempting a bunt, moving DiNatale to second. Both runners advanced on a balk. Yasmani Grandal followed by grounding out to second, scoring DiNatale and moving Herrmann to third.
Jonathan Weislow reached first on a four-pitch walk. Nathan Melendres grounded out to shortstop, scoring Herrmann. Scott Lawson singled to left field, driving in Weislow for a 4-0 lead.
Ryan Jackson popped up to first base, but Brandon McArthur and second baseman Jerico Weitzel collided and the ball dropped. Jason Hagerty walked to load the bases, and Justin Poovey replaced Maronde. The first batter Poovey faced was Martinez, who walked to score a run. DiNatale got his second hit of the inning on a line drive to center, driving in two more to make it 7-0 in the middle of the fourth inning.
“When we fell behind 7-0 after four innings, that’s when the air was just sucked right out of us,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got to have some leaders step up.
“When the wheels fell off in the fourth, they fell off everybody. No excuses, we just didn’t play well. I didn’t think we competed well. We’ve got some things to address. A disappointing weekend, to be honest with you. We got exactly what we deserved today.”
Maronde only lasted 3.2 innings, giving up six hits and seven runs although only four were earned. His control was iffy, walking four batters and hitting two.
“He was OK,” O’Sullivan said. “He worked behind. He was doing some stuff mechanically that he needs to correct, but he’s going to be a good one. This is just one of those days. He’ll have to put it behind him. If you work behind in the count, that’s what happens.
Maronde (0-1) agreed with the sentiments of his head coach.
“I just didn’t hit my spots,” the left-hander said. “I didn’t help the team out at all. I didn’t get out of the fourth (inning).”
Miami left-hander Iden Nazario improved to 2-0 with five strong innings. He allowed two hits and two earned runs while walking five and striking out seven. Travis Miller pitched three innings of two-hit ball and Jason Santana finished up.
Matt den Dekker, McArthur, Riley Cooper and Weitzel each had singles for Florida. Miami touched Maronde, Justin Poovey, Tony Davis, Chas Spottswood and Jeff Barfield for 20 hits and eight walks.
DiNatale went 4-for-6, scoring three times and driving in three runs. Herrmann also had three hits and three RBI, while Grandal had three hits and two RBI and Melendres had two hits and three RBI for Miami.
The Gators make their first trip Tuesday night when they play in DeLand against the Stetson Hatters.
“It’s our first time on the road.,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re going to have to band together and tighten things up a little bit. But we’ll get this thing going. I can promise you that.”
The Gators are home Wednesday to play Florida Atlantic at 6:30 p.m. and then have a three-game set with Duquesne beginning Friday at 6:30 followed by a pair of noon games Saturday and Sunday.