The Florida Gators (23-6, 5-4 SEC) used a late rally to overcome Alabama (14-12 4-5 SEC) on Sunday afternoon to take the weekend series over the Crimson Tide. Jeremy Vasquez’s second career home run (in as many days at that) tied the ball game in the seventh and Florida used three runs in the eighth inning to shut the door.
“I think the offense picked up the pitching this weekend. It’s not very often that you lose the first game of the series in 10 innings and lose in that type of way,” manager Kevin O’Sullivan said. “ It was disappointing and everybody was kind of down, but they fought. The hitters came back and scored five runs in the first yesterday and paced our offense for that game.”
Starting pitchers Dane Dunning and Geoffrey Bramblett set the tone for the day, throwing three scoreless innings apiece. After allowing a leadoff single, Guthrie retired the next nine batters he faced with ease and cruised through four innings.
Richie Martin jumped on Bramblett’s first pitch in the bottom of the fourth, launching it high into the air and over the wall in left. It was Martin’s second home run of the season and gave Florida some momentum with Dunning throwing a gem on the other side.
Dunning came out in the fifth, and wasn’t quite as sharp as he was the previous four innings. Dunning got two outs quickly but allowed in infield single to J.C. Wilhite, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Cody Henry doubled in Wilhite and the game was tied.
The Gators pounced back with Ryan Larson’s two-RBI single, scoring Mike Rivera and JJ Schwarz, to reclaim the lead.
Guthrie returned to the mound in the sixth inning but he wasn’t able to hold on to it for long. A one-out walk ended up with a
runner on third after Casey Hughston advanced to third on a throwing error by Rivera, trying to catch Hughston stealing second. A sacrifice fly, single and two-run homerun on a 0-2 count signaled the end of Dunning’s day.
“I thought Dane threw the ball very well today,” O’Sullivan said. “I thought this was one of the better outings for Dane, take away the one 0-2 pitch.”
Jeremy Vasquez — who missed the beginning of the season with a broken hand — came up to the plate in the seventh inning with two outs. Vasquez battled and launched a full count fastball deep over the wall in right field.
“Now, I can get my barrel through the zone a lot quicker. I can drive the ball up better now,” Vasquez said. “Every day my hand is getting stronger, and I’m feeling better.”
The Gators and Tide went tied into the bottom of the eight. Dalton Guthrie walked and Richie Martin reached first base on a
throwing error while he was trying to sacrifice Guthrie to second. Harrison Bader laid down the sacrifice bunt following Martin and Alabama elected to walk Josh Tobias to load the bases.
That brought Buddy Reed to the dish. Reed line a 1-1 offering into left field to score two.
“It was a great job for those guys to get on base. Alabama walked Tobias and brought in a lefty,” Reed said. “I’ve been working hard in the cage. It was a good pitcher, and I just wanted to put the ball in play to help my team.”
A.J. Puk — who was removed from the starting weekend rotation — took over for Dunning in the sixth inning and finished the game out strong. Puk was motivated by his demotion in the pitching lineup and used it to fuel his performance on Saturday.
“I’m not going to lie, getting pulled from the rotation isn’t my favorite thing,” Puk said. “I didn’t pitch well last week, so I wanted to come out this week and prove myself again. Hopefully, I’ll get another shot.”
Florida will travel to Jacksonville this Tuesday to take on Florida State.