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Friday, January 27, 2023

Florida falls to Kentucky in extra innings

<p>Nelson Maldonado bats during Florida's 2-1 win against Florida Atlantic on March, 22, 2016, at McKethan Stadium.</p>

Nelson Maldonado bats during Florida's 2-1 win against Florida Atlantic on March, 22, 2016, at McKethan Stadium.

Mike Rivera couldn’t react in time.

With the winning run on third base in the bottom of the 10th inning, Florida pitcher Brady Singer overthrew a pitch on an 0-2 count, leaving Rivera, the catcher, to reach across his body.

The ball scooted to the backstop, allowing Kentucky pinch runner Tyler Marshall to scurry home on the wild pitch, sealing the Wildcats’ 5-4 win over the No. 1 Gators in extra innings Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Florida (23-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference), which lost the series to Kentucky 2-1 for a fourth straight year, dropped two consecutive games for the first time this season.

UF assistant coach Brad Weitzel, speaking for Kevin O'Sullivan after the UF coach was ejected in the third inning, said he felt good about his team's chances in the bottom of the 10th after taking the lead in the top half.

After JJ Schwarz singled Buddy Reed home to seize a 4-3 lead, Weitzel left the ball in junior Dane Dunning’s hands to close out the game. But with one out, Dunning served up a game-tying home run to UK shortstop Riley Mahan.

"Dunning was throwing really, really good," Weitzel said. "He got a guy out in front of a changeup and scraped it over the right field wall."

But early on, it didn't look like the game would need to come down to extra-inning theatrics when Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

Nelson Maldonado laced an RBI double to left field to open the scoring. The freshman finished the game 2-for-4 and was 8-for-13 with two home runs, four RBIs and two doubles on the weekend.

Freshman Jonathan India followed Maldonado’s double with an RBI groundout to capture a 2-0 lead. A batter later, Maldonado hustled home from second on sophomore Dalton Guthrie’s infield single down the first-base line.

Then, O’Sullivan was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Jeffrey Macias, leaving Florida without its head coach for the rest of the game.

"That guy had a really quick thumb there to get him out of there," Weitzel said. "I stand right next to Sully. He didn’t entirely say too much."

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Meanwhile, UF starting pitcher Alex Faedo stayed composed after O'Sullivan's ejection.

The Tampa native breezed through the Wildcats until the sixth inning.

After a hit-by-pitch, UK second baseman Luke Becker laced an RBI double off Faedo to get Kentucky (17-6, 4-2 SEC) on the board. Two batters later, Becker raced home from second on Mahan’s infield single up the middle to narrow Florida’s lead to 3-2.

Faedo, who was replaced on the mound by Kirby Snead in the sixth inning, struck out eight over 5.2 innings, allowing two runs.

In the seventh, the Wildcats evened the score after a couple miscues from UF relief pitcher Shaun Anderson.

Kentucky’s Evan White led off with a single and advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt when Anderson threw a ball wide of first baseman Peter Alonso. White then advanced to third on a groundout and scored on an Anderson wild pitch.

The score remained tied at 3-3 until the 10th inning, when Florida took a one-run lead before Kentucky won on Singer’s walk-off wild pitch.

Weitzel said despite the tough loss, the Gators need to turn their attention to Tuesday’s contest against No. 12 Florida State, which starts at 6 p.m. in Jacksonville.

"Feelings don’t matter right now," he said. "No one cares if you don’t feel good. We play the Seminoles on Tuesday and we’ll be looking forward to it."

A radio broadcast contributed to this report.

Contact Patrick Pinak at and follow him on Twitter @Pinakk12

Nelson Maldonado bats during Florida's 2-1 win against Florida Atlantic on March, 22, 2016, at McKethan Stadium.

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