Gators Drop First Series of the Year

The Gators were hoping for a tie. With the game knotted at six heading to the bottom of the ninth, travel rules declared that it would be the last half inning. No. 16 Ole Miss scraped across a run on a throwing error by Preston Tucker, who moved in to become the team's fifth infielder, and the Rebels secured a 7-6 win over No. 1 Florida to give the Gators their first series loss of the year.

The inning started with Florida closer Austin Maddox (2-1) recording an out. Ole Miss catcher Will Allen then blooped a single into right field in front of Preston Tucker, who was playing deep.

"We were probably playing a little too deep," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said on the post game radio show. "I thought the ball in right should've been caught."

Preston Overbey followed with a single up the middle where Bobby Wahl, a pinch runner for Allen that threw eight scoreless innings on Friday, went from first to third base with one out. Overbey went to second on a throw. The Gators intentionally walked Zach Kirksey to load the bases with one out.

Florida then brought Tucker in from right field to play first base. Taylor Gushue moved from first base to become the team's fifth infielder and play just in front of the second base bag.

Senquez Golson tapped a ball to first base, where Tucker came in and fielded it before throwing it past catcher Mike Zunino, allowing Ole Miss to win on a walk-off throwing error.

"(Maddox) made a great pitch," O'Sullivan said. "We did what we needed to do. We just didn't make a great throw home—it's as simple as that."

The game didn't start well for Florida. Ole Miss took a 5-0 lead with two outs in the second inning after a two-run double by Alex Yarbrough, who ended the day with four hits.

"In the second inning, we didn't pitch well," O'Sullivan said. "With two outs and runner on first, we made some mistakes."

Jonathon Crawford started the game and lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up five hits, one walk and five earned runs. O'Sullivan quickly pulled him and went to Steven Rodriguez, who tossed four shutout innings to give the Gators a chance.

"We just didn't get a good start from Jonathon," O'Sullivan said.

After facing a 5-0 deficit, the Gators bounced back.

Daniel Pigott hit a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. Later in the same inning, Nolan Fontana, Justin Shafer and Vickash Ramjit each had two-out, RBI singles to cut the Ole Miss lead to 5-4.

After Fontana tied the game with a home run in the sixth inning, Tucker gave the Gators a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning with a solo blast.

"I was proud of our guys for the way we battled back, but it is disappointing—the way we played today in certain situations," O'Sullivan said.

"I was pleased with the way we swung the bats. We battled like heck. I felt really good about the game, but unfortunately we made a couple mistakes there at the end."

Yarbrough started the seventh inning with a single, and O'Sullivan brought in freshman left-hander Bobby Poyner. Before throwing a pitch, Poyner picked off to first and threw the ball up the first base line, sending Yarbrough to third. He would score on a Matt Snyder double to tie the game.

"There was no pickoff on—just a young pitcher trying to do too much there," O'Sullivan said.

"We'll have to learn from it. We made plenty of mistakes today."

The Gators conclude their eight-game road trip on Tuesday at North Florida at 6 p.m.

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