A catcher’s interference sent Jonathan India comfortably home and kept the No. 1 Florida Gators (5-0) undefeated with a comeback 8-7 win over Eastern Michigan (3-3) on Wednesday night at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.
“Credit our guys for hanging in there down three with six outs to go,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said on the radio. “It was a good learning experience for us in a bunch of different ways.”
It was the first game away from McKethan Stadium for Florida this season. The team packed up and boarded a bus early, providing a new batch of circumstances for the top-ranked team in the country.
In the first inning starting pitcher Scott Moss looked like he left his aim on the bus. Moss hit the first batter of the game and gave up a single before striking out Mitchell McGeein. Another walk loaded the bases and Moss’ second hit batter of the game gave the Eagles their first run. Moss got out of the jam allowing just one run but walked one, hit two and struck out two in the frame.
Florida tied the game in the third inning when Pete Alonso drove in Deacon Liput with a groundout to third. The Eagles retook the lead with an unearned run in the fifth inning, something that seemingly woke up the Florida bats.
JJ Schwarz was hit by a hanging curveball with one out and Pete Alonso moved him over with an infield single. Jeremy Vasquez singled to short and Schwarz came all the way around to score on a throwing error by Marquise Gill. Mike Rivera laced a single into left to score Alonso and Vasquez. Florida now had a 4-2 advantage with Frank Rubio entering the game.
Rubio’s outing was eventful. The junior walked one in the sixth, but faced the minimum with a strikeout, a grounder and a pick off. He returned in the seventh, gave up two hits but stranded both runners in another scoreless frame. Rubio gave up a leadoff single in the eighth inning and compounded that by hitting Jeremy Stidham and giving up an infield single to David Lett. Rubiro fielded Lett’s bunt, but Christian Hicks wasn’t ready for the throw and didn’t get his foot on the base. A fielder’s choice scored a run and chased Rubio in favor or Kirby Snead.
Snead got a popup for the first out of the inning but surrendered a two-run double into right. O’Sullivan went back to the bullpen, bringing in Nick Horvath, who promptly gave up another double and two more runs. Before the dust settled the Eagles had scored five runs on three hits and took a 7-4 lead with just six outs to play.
Jonathan India and Hicks walked to start the bottom half of the inning and Deacon Liput’s second triple of the season brought both runners home. Florida wasted the opportunity to tie the game with Liput on third and no outs, but came back in the ninth to score two runs, culminating in India scoring on catcher’s interference with the bases loaded.
The win is Florida’s fifth on the season and keeps Florida undefeated prior to its matchup with also undefeated Miami this weekend in Coral Gables.
Florida will throw Logan Shore on Friday to face likely Miami starter Thomas Woodrey. All three games will be streamed live on ESPN3.