It was a game 22 hours in the making. Rain delay after rain delay postponed Florida’s second-round matchup with Texas A&M from Wednesday to Thursday and eventually pushed back the start time from the morning to 2:45 p.m.
After days of anticipation, Florida floundered.
In arguably the worst performance from the team all season, seven-seed Florida fell to the two-seeded Aggies, 10-0, receiving a run-rule after the top of the seventh inning.
Scoring has been an issue for teams all week at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex in Hoover, Alabama; entering Florida’s game against the Aggies, no team scored more than five runs in a single game all week. UF met the same fate, receiving its third shutout of the season.
“We were not very good in all phases,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Honestly, we got beat handily today. It’s just that simple.”
Texas A&M starting pitcher junior Micah Dallas gave the Gators fits all day, despite entering the game with a 6.1 ERA. In five innings of work, Dallas allowed just one hit and one walk while dealing seven strikeouts.
Dallas’ counterpart, UF freshman Brandon Neely, succumbed to the Aggies’ offense much sooner. The Seville, Florida, native worked two scoreless innings before suffering a two-run home run blast from sophomore third baseman Trevor Werner.
Neely nearly had a disaster on his hands after allowing two runners to reach scoring position with two outs. A leaping grab from sophomore third baseman Colby Halter bailed Neely out of the jam, but the damage wasn’t quite done for the day.
In the fifth inning, a leadoff double preceded Neely plunking a batter, once again placing two Aggies on the base path. The freshman wasn’t as lucky this time; an RBI single from sophomore first baseman Jack Moss brought home the third run of the outing.
That ended Neely’s day of work as fellow freshman Fisher Jameson was brought in for relief. He got the Gators out of the inning, but it was the bats that would need to step up to the plate.
“Neely just didn’t have his stuff today,” junior catcher BT Riopelle said. “He battled as best he could I think, but that happens sometimes in baseball.”
Through six innings, Florida secured just one hit. No Gator base runner reached third and only two reached second. In a matchup with the No. 5 team in the nation, the bats fell silent.
Jameson would not make it through his first full frame of work. A leadoff homer from sophomore second baseman Ryan Targac pushed the lead to 4-0, and a follow-up single was enough for O’Sullivan to pull the plug. In came freshman Philip Abner, the third freshman arm of the day for Florida.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native lasted just a third of an inning. Abner worked one strikeout before suffering the third home run of the day against the Gators, a two-run shot to left field from junior center fielder Jordan Thompson.
Once again, O’Sullivan looked to the bullpen, trotting out redshirt freshman Tyler Nesbitt. The new pitcher allowed a double to the first batter he faced and walked the next. Those two plays loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly brought home another run to bring the score to 7-0.
The next batter, junior designated hitter Austin Bost, brought the other two base runners home with a three-run shot to hit double digits.
After six innings, the Gators trailed 10-0.
Three quick outs later in the top of the seventh, UF was run-ruled.
Florida now faces elimination Friday against the reigning SEC Tournament Champions, the three-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks. First pitch is slated for 10:30 a.m.
Carson Cashion is a third-year sports journalism major at UF, and the sports editor at The Alligator for the 2022 summer semester. A native of Altamonte Springs, Carson spends his free time walking his dog, Baxter, and listening to good music. He is an avid Tennessee sports fan, and eagerly awaits watching one of his teams win a championship for the first time.