Florida Gators drop SEC Tournament finale to Aggies

The Florida Gators quest for an eighth SEC Tournament Championship was halted by Texas A&M as the Aggies used four runs in the seventh and five more in the eighth to beat Florida 12-5.

Florida sent out Logan Shore to the mound. The junior had missed a scheduled start earlier in the week and had yet to throw in Hoover. With Regionals starting next week Shore would be on a strict pitch count limit. The SEC Pitcher of the Year lasted just one inning, giving up a run on two hits in the first inning.

Frank Rubio replaced Shore on the mound and earned two quick outs in the second. A trio of two-out singles extended the A&M lead to 2-0 before Rubio stopped the bleeding, getting J.B. Moss to ground out to second base.

Florida stormed back in the third inning. Nelson Maldonado singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Buddy Reed, who was 0-5 on the afternoon, struck out for the second out of the inning. Dalton Guthrie hit a routine groundball to shortstop, but Austin Homan’s throw sailed out of play, scoring Maldonado and advancing Guthrie to second. Following a JJ Schwarz walk Mike Rivera knotted the game at two with a single up the middle.

The tie game lasted five pitches before Nick Banks took a Rubio offering deep over the wall in right field and into the tress behind the park for a solo homerun. Florida tied the score again in the fourth when Maldonado drove Jeremy Vasquez in with a single.

The game moved into the sixth inning still tied. Jonathan India led off with a single and stole second. After Deacon Liput struck out, Danny Reyes drove India in with a single to center, giving Florida its first lead of the game. After walks to Vasquez and Maldonado Reed legged out what would have been an inning-ending double play to push Reyes across the plate, giving Florida a 5-3 advantage.

Michael Byrne, who entered the game in the fifth inning was baffling the best hitting team in the SEC. Byrne retired the first six batters he faced before returning to the mound in the seventh. Byrne retired Davis, his seventh out in a row. Florida had the infield shifted over for Hunter Melton, who took advantage of it with a single to second. Jonathan India booted a groundball off the bat of Austin Homan. Just as the Gators had done the inning before, the Aggies made the most of the error. J.B. Moss doubled down the left field line to score two and tie the game. Banks came back to the plate and duplicated his earlier theatrics with another home run into the trees in right field, 7-5 Aggies. Florida turned to Kirby Snead, who got the final out of the inning.

Snead struggled in the eighth, giving up a leadoff double and a single to start. After a strikeout Kevin O’Sullivan lifted Snead for Eddy Demurias, who promptly advanced both runners with a wild pitch. O’Sullivan elected to intentionally walk Hunter Melton to load the bases and Demurias walked Homan with the bases loaded. Moss cleared the bases with a double and scored on Boomer White’s single through the right side.

The win gave Texas A&M its first SEC Tournament Championship and could land the Aggies the No. 1 overall seed in the SEC Tournament. The Gators’ spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the country, but failed to win the SEC regular season or SEC Tournament. Florida, still, will be a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, meaning the Gators would host a Regional and a Super Regional if they were to advance.

The NCAA Regional hosts and sites will be released on Monday at noon.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC