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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Florida’s season comes to an end with heartbreaking loss to DBU

<p>Wil Dalton's two-run home run wasn't enough to keep UF's season alive.</p>

Wil Dalton's two-run home run wasn't enough to keep UF's season alive.

In a one-run game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, right fielder Kendrick Calilao stood just 90 feet away from home plate.

Second baseman Jacob Young had the golden opportunity to extend his team’s season, at least for another inning.

It was all for naught, though, as Young grounded out to second base, ending the threat and UF’s season as Dallas Baptist upended the Gators 9-8 in an elimination game in the Lubbock Regional on Sunday.

Florida (34-26) got out to a quick 2-0 lead through three innings.

Left fielder Austin Langworthy was responsible for both RBIs, grounding into a fielder’s choice in the first inning then smashing his second home run of the weekend out to right center in the third.

UF starter Nick Pogue coasted through the first three innings of his appearance, holding the Patriots to just one hit.

The fourth inning was a different story, however, as Pogue struggled through a 33-pitch frame in which he gave up six earned runs. He was pulled in the inning, but DBU (43-19) still tacked on three more against reliever Nolan Crisp to up the advantage to 9-2.

The Gators sliced into the lead during the bottom of the fifth, scoring four runs behind hits from designated hitter Nelson Maldonado (RBI double), catcher Brady Smith (RBI single) and center fielder Wil Dalton (two-run home run).

“This is probably the most resilient offense I’ve had here in 12 years,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said in a release. “They continued to scratch and claw… Most teams down 9-2, it would be tough to come back… we got one base hit away from tying up the game there in the ninth.”

Florida added a run in the seventh off of a Jordan Butler RBI single. The Gators cut the lead to one on an RBI groundout by pinch-hitter Kirby McMullen in the ninth.

Florida fought until the end, but it wasn’t enough. This year’s Gators team is the first since 2013 to fail to advance to the Super Regionals. Instead, Texas Tech will move on.

“Awfully proud of how we battled this season and how we battled this weekend,” O’Sullivan said. “Dallas Baptist earned it and we certainly wish them the best of luck moving forward.”

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Wil Dalton's two-run home run wasn't enough to keep UF's season alive.

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