The month of May couldn’t have gone any worse for Kevin O’Sullivan and the Florida baseball team. The Gators kicked the month off by getting swept at LSU and then lost five of their remaining nine games the rest of the way to compile a 4-8 record for the month.
It was a free fall that all could have been forgotten had the Gators been able to put up a good showing in Hoover, Alabama in the SEC Championship.
After finishing the regular season with a 29-27 (14-16 SEC) record, the Gators were given the eighth seed in the tournament and played in a single elimination game against the ninth seeded Aggies of Texas A&M.
The game started off well for the Gators. Johnny Magliozzi started just his third game of the season and was perfect through three innings. Behind Magliozzi’s hot start, the Gators claimed the lead in the bottom of the second. Florida would score twice in the inning, thanks to two errors from the Aggies.
Magliozzi retired the first 10 batters he faced before getting into trouble in the fourth inning. He plunked Blake Allemand followed up by a Cole Lankford single. Maggliozzi would retire the next batter before facing freshman, Hunter Melton. Melton blasted a three-run moonshot over the left field wall and just like that, the Gators trailed by a run.
Florida would tie the game up on an unusual play in the very next inning. Josh Tobias singled and was sacrificed over to second by Cody Dent. Richie Martin grounded out to first, moving Tobias to third base and Casey Turgeon walked to give Florida men on the corners. Taylor Gushue fell behind quickly and on a 1-2 offering in the dirt, checked his swing. Aggie catcher Troy Stein blocked the ball but rather than checking Tobias at third, looked for an appeal on the check swing with the first base umpire. Alertly, Tobias ran home and tied the game easily.
Unfortunately, as things have gone for Florida all year long, the Aggies quickly re-took the lead and never gave it back. In the very next half-inning, Texas A&M put up two more runs and that was all starting pitcher Daniel Mengden needed.
Mengden would retire the last 13 batters he faced, including striking out 7 of the last eight men he faced. Mengden went the distance, striking out 11, walking just one and was only credited with giving up one run on the day. It was a dominant performance.
The Gators are now in danger of missing out on a regional – it would be the first time Florida didin’t make a regional with O’Sullivan as their coach. Florida will find out what their fate is on selection Monday when all the regionals are announced. Despite playing the nation’s toughest schedule, the Gators season could have potentially ended on Tuesday afternoon in Hoover.