Gators Get it Done in Extra Innings

When the ball landed a foot fair, Nolan Fontana knew he had a triple. There wasn't a doubt in his mind. The sophomore's one-out line drive down the right field line fueled a tenth inning rally that was punctuated with a Daniel Pigott walk-off single, giving the No. 1 Gators a 5-4 win over No. 4 Florida State in front of a record crowd of 5,930 at McKethan Stadium Tuesday night.

The run came after the Gators had already stranded a season-high 13 runners on bases. When Pigott's ball rolled up the middle, there was only a sense of relief.

"For me it was," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said about the weight off the team's shoulders. "When you have a runner on third base with (less than two) outs, you have to cash in, especially when it's Florida State. It's one that we can't let slip away when we have all these opportunities. At some point, you have to cash in against good teams."

The missed opportunities were abundant. Brian Johnson led off the ninth with an infield single and pinch runner Paul Wilson made it to third with no outs on a stolen base and a wild pitch. Mike Zunino stuck out, Tyler Thompson grounded out and Jeff Moyer flew out to end the threat.

The 13 runners left on base come on the heels of Florida leaving 12 runners on Sunday against Rhode Island.

"Personally, I'm worn out," O'Sullivan said. "I don't ever remember being in a game quite like that. It was a back-and-forth game."

The game looked over when Florida State right-hander Daniel Bennett came in during the seventh inning. The submariner has dominated Florida in his last two seasons, and it looked like more of the same. The Seminoles wanted to use him as a bridge to All-American closer Mike McGee (0-1), with the possibility of letting Bennett finish the game.

To counter the submariner's domination of right-handed hitters, O'Sullivan pinch-hit with all the lefties he could find on his bench. He let junior Jeff Moyer hit for two-time All-SEC member Josh Adams, and then Kamm Washington hit for Tyler Thompson. Moyer singled, and Washington followed with a double.

"I thought Jeff Moyer came off the bench and had a great at-bat," O'Sullivan said. "It's a tough decision to take Josh out of the game. He's a four-year starter, but I just had a gut feeling. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't, but we certainly have tremendous confidence in Josh. It was one of those things where Bennett had our number."

Pigott followed with a two-run single to tie the game with one out in the eighth inning. The junior had a season-high four RBIs, upping his team leading total to 18.

The beginning of the game felt eerily similar to the matchup in Tampa two weeks ago. Florida State put together a four-run third inning, the same inning the Gators allowed a five-spot that they couldn't recover from in Tampa. This time, they fought back. Pigott had an RBI double in the third inning to score Adams, and Thompson had an RBI singled in the fourth inning to bring the deficit to 4-2.

Alex Panteliodis started the game, but he dug the Gators into an early hole. He gave up a leadoff single to McGee in the third inning before hanging an off-speed pitch to James Ramsey, who hit it over the palm trees behind the right field fence. Two batters later, Panteliodis allowed a double to Rafael Lopez, and the starting pitcher's day was over.

Greg Larson came in and gave up a two-run home run to Justin Gonzalez, but he settled down after that. The junior threw 3.2 innings, allowing two hits and one run while striking out two.

"You've got to count on the bullpen to slow things down," Larson said. "I was just keeping the ball down and using my sinker. I didn't try to overanalyze it, just get it down and let the sink do the work."

Larson didn't pick up the win, but he was the most important pitcher for Florida. He brought some calamity to a game that had plenty of momentum in the Florida State dugout.

"The key to it was Larson settling things down," O'Sullivan said. "After the two-run homer, he put three zeroes on the board, and I thought that was key."

The final box score looked like a spring football roster. There were a total of 39 players combined to get in the game for both teams, with 15 being pitchers. Florida State used nine arms, while the Gators used six.

Besides Florida State starter Hunter Scantling, the longest a Seminole pitcher threw was 1.1 innings.

Anthony DeSclafani (3-0) picked up the win for Florida after throwing two perfect innings.

The Gators will take Wednesday off before traveling to LSU on Thursday for their opening SEC series. The first game is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium.

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