The Florida Gators got a win on Thursday night. That’s good. They snapped a 3-game conference losing streak in the process, also good. There wasn’t much more to be happy about other than that Thursday night in a 9-5 win.
The Gators’ pitching staff walked eight batters, threw four wild pitches, hit two more batter and the bullpen turned what was a 6-0 sleeper into a 9-5 win that had real tension in the later innings.
“I don’t know what to say. We haven’t walked this many in our 11 years here,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “We’re just not throwing the ball across the plate. it’s kind of been that way all year long.”
It wasn’t a clean game. There haven’t been a lot of clean games in the last two weeks and it’s a big reason why the Gators are 23-13 and 5-8 in the SEC.
Florida got to South Carolina starter Reid Morgan in the third inning. Jud Fabian and Blake Reese drew walks to start the inning. Santino Miozzi faled to get a sacrifice bunt down and struck out but was picked up by Brady McConnell. The sophomore hit a hanging first pitch slider up and over the wall in right field to break the game open 3-0.
“I sat on it well and took it the other way,” McConnell said. “I was glad to get us on the board first.”
The home run was the shortstop’s seventh of the season. Florida hasn’t had a shortstop hit double-digit home runs in a season since Cole Figueroa hit 10 in 2007.
McConnell’s home run started a rash of hits for the Gators. Austin Langworthy doubled to left center. Nelson Maldonado singled to left. Kendrick Calilao singled to right, Cory Acton singled up the middle before Morgan would get the second out of the inning. Jud Fabian singled home the sixth and final run of the third inning and Florida was cruising on pace for an easy victory.
Tommy Mace threw a very interesting game. The sophomore walked four, hit two and threw two wild pitches but gave up just one run over six-plus innings of work. Mace didn’t have his best stuff or great command but he made pitches when he needed to Thursday night. Still, the sophomore was not happy with the way he threw
“I just didn’t have fastball command,” Mace said. “I should be able to throw a fastball where I want it to be and where I want it to go.”
Florida’s bullpen faltered, again. Mace walked the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh and was replaced by hunter Ruth. The redshirt freshman struck out his first batter but then lost the zone. Ruth gave up a double and then allowed both runners to score on two wild pitches. He walked two and was replaced by Nolan Crisp. The freshman was good, until he wasn’t. Crisp retired the first four batters he faced but waked the first two batters in the top of the ninth. A double plated both of those runners and chased him from the game. Ben Specht relieved Crisp and found the last two outs.
“I’m excited we won, obviously it’s a lot better than the other outcome. On the same token I don’t want us to be fooled and think we’re playing at our best because we’re not,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s a fine line. You want to be positive with the win but you don’t want to fool yourselves either.”