The Florida Gators (38-14, 17-10 SEC) used three unanswered runs in the eight and ninth innings to force extra innings and tacked on two more in the 10th to earn a huge series win over SEC East leading Vanderbilt (36-16, 18-9 SEC).
The Gators looked down and out after Vanderbilt scored three runs in the seventh inning to break a tie and take the lead late. With a National Seed in the NCAA Tournament on the line the stakes were high and emotion ran thick.
After a couple of great pitching performances, the bats ruled the day on Saturday. Buddy Reed launched a three-run home run in the top of the first; only to have Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson launch a two-run bomb of his own in the bottom half of the frame.
Rhett Wiseman tied the game in the bottom of the third with a solo home run and Dansby Swanson launched a solo shot of his own in the fifth. Up to that point all seven runs had been scored via the long ball.
Florida tied the game in the fifth inning, while having to use Alex Faedo, Kirby Snead and Dane Dunning and Bobby Poyner to match Vanderbilt starter Walker Buehler, who threw 6.1 innings.
Richie Martin singled in the seventh inning with two runners on base. Mike Rivera raced around third and needed to execute a perfect slide to get around the tag after the ball beat him to the plate. Rivera contorted his body perfectly to miss the tag and score.
With a tie game, senior Bobby Poyner lost control – something he hadn’t done all season long. Poyner entered the game with just three walks to his name but walked two in the seventh inning, including the go-ahead run. Will Toffey’s ground rule double scored two more and Vanderbilt had what appeared to be a comfortable three-run lead.
Pete Alonso singled with one out to get the Gators going. JJ Schwarz sent a triple down the right field line to score Alonso and Ryan Larson drove him in one batter later.
Heading to the ninth with a one-run deficit, Florida’s chances appeared grim when Josh Tobias flied out and Harrison Bader struck out. Buddy Reed kept the game going with a single up the middle and Alonso drew a walk. Schwarz shot a ball through the right side and the speedy Buddy Reed easily beat the throw easily to tie the game at seven.
With momentum on their side the Gators tacked on two more runs in the 10th and Taylor Lewis closed the door, earning his fourth win of the season.