Florida dropped its NCAA Regionals opener to South Florida by a 5-3 score and are now just one loss from ending their season much earlier than preseason expectations anticipated.
Florida decided to play the early game (noon start) despite the NCAA allowing full capacity, thus limiting how many fans could attend. In the past, Kevin O’Sullivan has explained that the likelihood of a rain delay is greater in the later game in explaining the decision. While that decision didn’t necessarily cost Florida a victory, it did cost them the opportunity to have a packed Florida Ballpark as they tried to rally back to victory after incurring an early deficit. Oh, and Florida had to wait out a two hour an eighteen minute rain delay prior to the sixth inning.
How It Happened:
South Florida got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second as an RBI double from Nelson Rivera plated Sullivan.
An inning later, the Bulls added to the lead with a solo homer from Riley Hogan. RF Sterlin Thompson actually had the ball in his glove, but couldn’t keep it there and the ball dropped beyond the fence and South Florida grabbed a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, Florida got one back as Jacob Young scored on Nathan Hickey’s double to right center.
Florida pitcher Tommy Mace struggled, oftentimes catching too much of the plate and got hit hard as a result. In the top of the fifth he gave up another homer as Carmine Lane hit a towering blast to left to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
Once again, Florida answered. An RBI single from Hickey scored Mac Guscette and put the Gators back within one.
After an extended rain delay forced O’Sullivan to use his bullpen despite only 71 pitches from Mace, the Gators called on Christian Scott. A leadoff double scored on a wild pitch to add insurance to the scoreboard.
The Bulls added one more in the seventh before a Kris Armstrong homer closed the gap to 5-3.
- W: Dylan Burns (5-5)
- L: Tommy Mace (6-2)
- S: Orion Kerkering (5)
- Hickey: 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
- Armstrong: 2-4, HR, RBI, R
- Guscette: 2-3, 2B, R
- Mace: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 K, BB
Florida must now win four straight games to continue its season beyond regional play. That stretch begins with a noon contest on Saturday against South Alabama. The Jaguars fell to Miami 1-0 in the evening game on Friday.