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UF Baseball: Gators Lose to South Alabama, Finish 0-2 in Gainesville Regional

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SULLIVAN BORTNER

The host Gators made a quick exit in the Gainesville Regional.

No. 3-seed South Alabama’s lineup made sure of that Saturday afternoon in a 19-1 win at Florida Ballpark to end Florida’s season. The Jaguars (34-22) pounded the Gators for 20 hits, including 10 in a row during a 10-run sixth inning that erased any doubt whether No. 1-seed Florida (38-22) had a rally left in its tank.

South Alabama, shut out Friday night by Miami, led the Gators 4-1 when the bottom of the sixth inning started. Franco Aleman, who came out of the bullpen, retired two of the first three batters in the inning when the hits started pouring from the sky. South Alabama sent 14 batters to the plate in the inning against Aleman and reliever Brandon Sproat, recording nine singles and a double in the frame.

The inning underscored a disappointing end to the 2021 season for the Gators, who opened the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the country but struggled with injuries and consistency. Florida’s 5-3 loss to South Florida on Friday dropped the Gators into the loser’s bracket.

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The loss marked only the sixth time in program history the Gators have gone 0-2 in regional play and first time since 2014.

Signs surfaced early in Saturday’s loss that it might not be the Gators’ day. Starter Hunter Barco lasted only a 1/3 of an inning, falling behind 2-0 in the first inning before being replaced by Jack Leftwich. The Gators trimmed South Alabama’s lead to 2-1 in the top of the third on Mac Guscette’s RBI sacrifice fly.

The Sun Belt Conference Tournament-champion Jaguars struck back with a pair of runs in the fifth on Cameron Tissue’s two-run double. The next inning is when the floodgates opened, and to add to the Gators’ misery, a weather delay halted play for 2 hours, 18 minutes in the bottom of the seventh with South Alabama leading 19-1.

Jaguars first baseman Kaleb DeLaTorre had four hits, and leadoff hitter Santi Montiel added a team-high five RBI, including a three-run homer two batters prior to the weather delay that started at 3:10 p.m.

NOTABLES

  *   Florida is now 79-48 all-time at NCAA Regionals.
  *   For the second consecutive game, Jacob Young led off with a single up the middle for the Gators.
  *   Shortstop Josh Rivera notched a two-hit game, finishing 2-for-3 with one run scored. The performance marked Rivera’s 13th multi-hit game of the year and 18th overall in his career.

FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On the course of events in today’s game…

“Well, it’s pretty simple. We got beat. First, I want to congratulate South Alabama. I’ve known Mark Calvi since my college days and that type of thing. Obviously, happy for him to have the opportunity to move forward. Today was just a day, really to summarize it, it’s one of the strangest games I think I’ve ever been involved with, from getting off to a start like we did in the first and having to use our closer in the first. Giving up 10 consecutive hits… Lars [Davis] was doing the math in the rain delay and he’s probably the smartest person I’ve ever met, but I think he came up with like a 1 in 934,000 chance for 10 consecutive hits like that, considering their individual batting averages. Credit their hitters. We didn’t walk anybody. We didn’t make any errors that inning. It’s just one of those crazy things about this game that makes it so good.”

On the support of the fans…

“I also want to thank our fans. They were awesome. I mean, supporting us all season, waiting around and sticking around after the rain delay. I really appreciate that, and I know our players and staff do as well.”

On the weather delay…

  “There’s not much to say. The players went into the locker room. They got something to eat. We just kind of watched some other games and tried to figure out how we can get some of these other guys in the ballgame, like using Cal [Greenfield] at the end there and getting Kirby [McMullen] another at-bat.”

On what Kirby McMullen has meant to the program…

  “If he would have gotten on there, we would have pinch ran for him. Hopefully, he would have gotten a standing O from our fans, because he’s meant an awful lot to our program. He exemplifies everything we want in somebody. He’s waited his turn, he’s worked hard, he’s a great student, he does everything right on and off the field. So, it was really good to get him and Brock Edge an at-bat there at the end.”

On the way the season ended…

“There’s not much to say. It’s just one of those days. Unfortunately, it’s the last game of the year for us.  That’s something we got to live with. But, seven o’clock tomorrow, we have to move forward. I know the players are probably disappointed right now obviously, because this is the last chance this group will have to be together. But, we have a lot to be proud of. We hosted another regional, even though we were doing some ups and downs during the season. We hung in there. I thought we played our best baseball in the second half of the year and we improved as the season went on. It’s just a sad way to end it this way.”

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