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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Stetson surges late to upset Gators

No. 9 Florida’s bullpen couldn’t hold the Hatters offense down as the Gators fell 6-1

Third baseman Kirby McMullen hits a ball against Jacksonville March 14. McMullen tallied two of Florida's three hits and scored the Gators only run in a 6-1 loss to Stetson on Tuesday.
Third baseman Kirby McMullen hits a ball against Jacksonville March 14. McMullen tallied two of Florida's three hits and scored the Gators only run in a 6-1 loss to Stetson on Tuesday.

Reliever Trey Van Der Weide took a long, calm gaze around the diamond with the bases fully loaded in the seventh inning. But when pinch hitter Ryne Guida put down a routine bunt, chaos took the wheel.

Van Der Weide made a throw the redshirt senior wished he could have back as the ball sailed past first baseman Nathan Hickey.

Second baseman Cory Acton was there to save Florida from complete disaster, but No. 9 Florida’s first error of the night was enough to spark a six-run frenzy by the Hatters and spur them to a 6-1 upset on Tuesday night.

Freshman Brandon Sproat made his first career start on the hill Tuesday night and performed admirably as he held the Hatters to only one hit in 4.2 innings pitched. The right-hander retired two batters in his final frame before head coach Kevin O’Sullivan made the call to the bullpen.

Relievers David Luethje and Van Der Weide continued to nail down the Stetson offense in the latter half of the matchup, and they preserved the shutout for two innings after Sproat left the hill.

Van Der Weide came undone in the seventh, however. Sophomore Christian Scott looked strong and struck out three batters to escape the seventh, but he was still pulled from his duties early in the eighth in favor of Ben Specht, who proceeded to give up the Gators’ advantage.

The Hatters began to overpower Florida when pinch hitter Eric Foggo stepped to the plate against Specht and fired a rocket to left-center for a two-run home run. Center fielder Andrew MacNeil followed with his own line drive for an RBI double to provide some late-game insurance and end Specht’s night.

Not all of the blame can be shifted toward Florida’s bullpen, as Florida’s bats stayed ice-cold the entire night.

Center fielder Jud Fabian didn’t record a hit but drew a walk to reach base safely for a 23rd straight game. Third baseman Kirby McMullen kept the team’s heart beating with two successful trips to the batter’s box, but the rest of the team went a measly 1-27. Pinch hitter Colby Halter claimed the third and only other hit for Florida.

McMullen scored the only run of the night for the Gators on a fielder’s choice in the second inning.

Now the No. 9 Gators must regroup and prepare for more SEC competition when the Georgia Bulldogs pay a visit to Florida Ballpark in Gainesville, Florida. The three-game series begins on Friday and will be broadcasted live on the SEC Network. 

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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