It was an afternoon of missed opportunities for the Florida Gators. Miami starter David Gutierrez held the Florida offense at bay for seven scoreless innings of work during the Hurricanes’ 2-1 victory in front of 4,570 people at McKethan Stadium. The Gators (5-2) stranded 11 runners.
“It’s frustrating, frustrating,” Florida baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We reached at too many pitches today. We didn’t stay in our stance and put good swings on the ball. We gave them some easy outs.”
The Gators ended the first and second innings with runners on second and third base. Back-to-back one-out singles in the eighth inning by Matt den Dekker and Brandon McArthur were followed by Preston Tucker grounding into a double play.
The true backbreaker came in the ninth inning. All-America closer Kyle Bellamy came in to pitch for Miami, leading off the inning by walking Riley Cooper. Tyler Thompson then pinch-hit and reached first base when a ground ball went through Scott Lawson’s legs at second base, advancing Cooper to third. Jerico Weitzel then reached on a ground ball to second base which erased Thompson at second base, allowing Cooper to score. Avery Barnes singled to right field on the next pitch, moving Weitzel to third. But Mike Mooney popped out to third base and Josh Adams struck out to end the game.
In total, seven of the 11 baserunners left on base by Florida were in scoring position.
“Wow, I didn’t realize it was 11,” Mooney said. “There were a few innings where we left some guys on that easily could have been brought in. We just didn’t get it done. It’s frustrating. We wanted to bounce back from yesterday (an 8-5 setback to the Hurricanes, who improved to 5-1).”
Lost in the Gators’ underwhelming offensive performance was the second solid start by freshman left-hander Alex Panteliodis, who went 5.2 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs. The eight hits may be alarming, but he pitched well with runners on base to avoid allowing further damage.
“I came out and did pretty well,” Panteliodis said. “I gave our team some opportunities. I felt pretty good.”
O’Sullivan was impressed with the way his freshman pitched.
“When you give up two runs, you expect to win,” O’Sullivan said. “I thought he threw well. He made some pitches when he had to. They got some leadoff men on, but he buckled down and did a good job. Last night it was pitching and defense (that struggled). Today it was the offense.”
The Hurricanes drew first blood in the third inning. Friday night’s hero Jonathan Weislow and Nathan Melendres led off with back-to-back singles before Scott Lawson moved them over with a sacrifice bunt. Ryan Jackson’s groundout scored Weislow to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. The Hurricanes extended their lead in the fifth inning. Weislow drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a one-out single by Lawson. Jackson picked up his second RBI of the day with a single into right field to score Weislow.
Gutierrez improved to 1-0 by scattering six hits and three walks over seven innings. He struck out one. The Gators had nine hits, two each by Mooney and Adams. They also got a one-hit, 3.1-inning scoreless outing from reliever Billy Bullock.
The series concludes Sunday at noon. Florida will start freshman left-hander Nick Maronde, and Miami will counter with sophomore left-hander Iden Nazario. Admission is free if you show your Tennessee basketball ticket.