Gator Comebacks Set Up Three-Way Tie

There is a moment in every season where a team does something unexpected and follows by ripping off a winning streak. The Gators are hoping that happened on Sunday in Nashville. With the season heading into its final conference weekend, the Gators used two comeback performances to record wins and set up a three-way tie for first in the SEC.

Consider how unlikely the comebacks were.

Before the opening game of the series, Vanderbilt had only lost two games at home all season. There isn't a large home field advantage for the Commodores, but it's a veteran team that has played well all season.

That made it surprising enough that the Gators won the series.

Florida's comeback in the first game of the series came in a suspended game on Saturday. Vanderbilt held a 6-5 lead and went to closer Navery Moore, an All-America candidate, to slam the door. Moore hadn't allowed an extra base hit all season.

The first batter he faced in the ninth inning Saturday was Josh Adams, who blasted a home run to tie the game. Later that inning, Bryson Smith would drill a double to give Florida 6-5 lead that would stand and give the Gators the first game of the series.

After a 14-1 pounding by Vanderbilt in the second game, the Commodores held a 3-1 lead in the series finale in the fourth inning. The game looked to be in cruise control as neither team could score, but the Gators tacked on runs in the seventh and eighth inning on a solo home run and sacrifice fly from catcher Mike Zunino.

With the game tied at three in the 12th inning, the Gators intentionally walked Preston Tucker to put two runners on base and bring Zunino to the plate. Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin went back to his closer to attempt to slow down the Florida rally.

Instead, Zunino drove a pitch over the right field wall to give the Gators a 6-3 lead that would hold as Florida took the series.

After pitching all season without giving up an extra base hit, Moore allowed three and struggled in two games against the Gators.

Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt now all control their own destiny in the conference championship race. The SEC doesn't use tiebreakers to declare a conference champion, so multiple champions is possible. The tiebreaker is only used for seeding in the SEC Tournament, and South Carolina holds it with series wins over Florida and Vanderbilt.

Florida hosts Kentucky to finish the conference season, while South Carolina travels to South Carolina and Vanderbilt travels to Georgia. Each series this weekend will run Thursday-Saturday to give each team an extra day of rest for the SEC Tournament, which starts the following Wednesday.

Fightin Gators Top Stories