With JJ Schwarz coming to the plate with a chance to tie the game, Miami made the call to the bullpen.
After Buddy Reed singled home a run with two outs in the ninth inning to pull the Gators within two, the Hurricanes called on All-American closer Bryan Garcia.
Garcia and Schwarz battled back and forth, but Garcia pulled the string on a changeup on a full count, and Schwarz swung over it to end the game.
Schwarz finished with two of UF’s seven hits as No. 1 Florida (6-1) suffered its first loss of the season to No. 6 Miami 5-3 Saturday night at Alex Rodriguez Park in Miami.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We had our best hitter, and their guy just made a heck of a pitch.”
Miami (5-1) roughed up Florida starter A.J. Puk early.
The junior allowed three hits in a row in the second inning, including an RBI double from Johnny Ruiz to give UM a 1-0 lead.
Florida evened up the score on a Schwarz RBI single in the top of the third, but Puk found himself in more trouble in the bottom half.
Puk loaded the bases on a double, an error and a hit-by-pitch before Miami’s Zack Collins stepped into the batter’s box. With the bases loaded, the junior catcher swatted a two-run single to put Miami up 3-1.
And in the fourth, Collins ripped another two-run single with the bases full, this time off freshman Brady Singer, to push UM’s lead to 5-1. Collins finished the game 2-for-4 with 4 RBIs.
O’Sullivan said Puk wasn’t able to locate both his fastball and secondary pitches well. The left-hander went just 2.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out five.
“They were very aggressive on A.J.,” O’Sullivan said. “We just gotta get A.J. going deeper in the ball game.”
Florida had its chances to score on UM starter Michael Mediavilla, but it couldn’t capitalize. In the second inning, Mediavilla walked three Gators to load the bases but pitched out of it, allowing no runs.
“He was wild, to be honest with you,” O’Sullivan said. “He had a couple points in the game where he had to make a pitch, and he did.”
With time running out, the Gators added one run in the eighth inning on a Jeremy Vasquez RBI groundout. In the ninth, they added their third and final run on the Reed RBI single before Schwarz fanned to end the game.
The two teams will face off Sunday at 1 p.m. to decide the series. Right-hander Alex Faedo is scheduled to draw the start for Florida.
A radio broadcast contributed to this report.