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Friday, September 30, 2022
<p>Right fielder Wil Dalton registered the game-winning RBI in UF's 7-6 win over Georgia on Friday night. </p>

Right fielder Wil Dalton registered the game-winning RBI in UF's 7-6 win over Georgia on Friday night. 

Wil Dalton knew the ball was deep enough to win the game as soon as it left the bat.

With bases loaded, one out and the score tied at 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth, the Gators’ third baseman let one fly.

As the ball sailed further and further, it became more clear that it wouldn’t have mattered if Georgia caught the ball or not.

“I knew I just had to hit a decent fly ball,” Dalton said. “I didn’t have to hit it to the fence, I just had to get it out there.”

The hit was deep enough to where the only way the Bulldogs could to save the game was on a perfect throw home. That throw never came as the outfielder dropped the ball, allowing Horvath to score the game winning run from third.

Dalton’s game-winner capped off a night of comebacks for the No. 1 Florida baseball team, which had to bounce back from two deficits in Friday night’s 7-6 win over No. 16 Georgia (34-15, 15-10 SEC) at McKethan Stadium.

“I think coming off Tuesday’s win where we fell behind USF 6-0 and came back and won it, we proved we can do that,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.

Those deficits didn’t come early.

The Gators (40-11, 19-6 SEC) were quick to get on the board. In the bottom of the third, first baseman Keenan Bell walked and shortstop Deacon Liput doubled to right field to put Florida in scoring position.

A Nelson Maldonado single on the next at-bat put UF ahead 2-0.

In the bottom of the fourth, Gators catcher JJ Schwarz bruised a pitch over the left-field wall to set the score at 3-0.

“I feel really good up there,” Schwarz said. “I feel really comfortable.”
On the defensive side, Brady Singer started the night in dominant fashion. He only allowed three hits through the first five innings of play and struck out four in the process.

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Then came the top of the sixth inning. Florida’s Friday night ace started off by allowing a single, which was quickly followed by a double. Singer responded with a strikeout to Bulldogs designated hitter Michael Curry, but was met by his coach, Kevin O’Sullivan, at the mound.

What happened next quickly changed the pace of the game and probably wasn’t what O’Sullivan had in mind.

Singer walked first baseman Adam Sasser to load the bases. Then, on what should have been a routine out to first base on a ground ball, Bell mishandled the ball at first base, allowing Georgia’s first run to score and the bases to remain loaded.

That set up Bulldogs second baseman LJ Talley to blast a grand slam over the right-field wall two batters later to give Georgia a 5-3 lead.

“I think (the Bulldogs) had a good approach tonight,” Singer said. “I think they were trying to attack fastballs, and I’m obviously going to throw fastballs.”

That advantage was short-lived, however.

After Maldonado walked and India singled to put runners on first and second in the bottom of the inning, Schwarz doubled off the center-field wall to knock in Florida’s runners and tie the game.

Singer came back in for one more inning, giving up two hits while striking out one. He finished the day allowing five runs -- one of which was earned -- on eight hits with six strikeouts through seven innings.

Gators reliever Jordan Butler came in next and recorded a flawless inning while striking out two. He went a full inning and was pulled in favor of closer Michael Byrne after allowing a single and hitting a batter in the top of the ninth.

At first, things were looking up for Byrne. The junior faced two outs and bases loaded in the ninth trying to preserve the game.

A passed ball to Georgia left fielder Keegan McGovern gave the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead.

The Gators quickly turned it around in the bottom of the inning.

Andrew Baker stood on third pinch running for Bell, who forced a walk. Horvath was on second, fresh off a single to left field. And Liput trotted to first base after being hit by a pitch.

All with no outs.

Maldonado, the next batter, belted a sac fly to left field to tie the game, and after India was intentionally walked, Dalton’s deep sac fly earned Florida the win.

“It just shows the team what we are capable of,” Schwarz said. “We don’t play from behind often. We came up big.”

 

You can follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake or contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

 

Right fielder Wil Dalton registered the game-winning RBI in UF's 7-6 win over Georgia on Friday night. 

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