Gators Can't Adjust, Drop Game to USF

The time it took No. 2 Florida to adjust at the plate ended up being its downfall on Tuesday. South Florida started Matt Reed didn't break 80 mph with a pitch he threw on the night while allowing three runs in 5.2 innings to hold the Gators at bay. The three runs didn't come until the sixth inning. The Gators waited too long for the offense to start and suffered a 5-3 loss to South Florida.

"We didn't do a good job -- at all," Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana said. "We didn't do a good job at all. The lineup, we didn't do what we needed to do early, in the beginning of the night and it showed."

It was tough to look away from the radar gun on the scoreboard when Reed was on the mound. He flipped up multiple breaking balls under 60 mph that has the Florida hitters taking wild swings. Instead of being patient and trying to hit the ball to the opposite field, the Gators got too aggressive and trying pulling everything.

That created weak contact, mostly ending in fly balls. Thirteen of Florida's 27 outs were fly balls, most of them routine plays.

"It's an adjustment you have to make in the box," said Florida center fielder Daniel Pigott, who went 3-for-4. "We didn't do that so well tonight. We're capable and it's frustrating, but we'll get around to it."

The Gators didn't make the necessary adjustments until the sixth inning. Fontana hit a solo blast to right field that led off the inning and cut the lead to 3-1. Preston Tucker reached on a fielding error by left fielder Alex Mendez, and Mike Zunino launched a ball over the bleachers to tie the game at three.

With all the momentum from tying the game, the Gators made the mistake that gets under head coach Kevin O'Sullivan's skin the most— they walked the leadoff hitter. Daniel Gibson put Mendez on base to start the inning, and he would come around to score on a two-out single by Jimmy Falla, giving the Bulls a 4-3 lead.

"I think the turning point, after we went out and scored three in the sixth, we went out and walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh," O'Sullivan said. "That changed the momentum of the game. We felt good about ourselves after battling back, and the next thing you know, we're battling with a runner on first and end up taking the fourth run there."

South Florida would tack on a run with a solo home run in the eighth inning by Andrew Longley, his second homer of the game.

The Gators would fight back with a rally in the ninth inning. Taylor Gushue singled to start it and move to second when Nolan Fontana laced a single to right. The bases were loaded with two outs after the Bulls walked Preston Tucker to bring All-American catcher Mike Zunino to the plate.

South Florida right-hander Steven Leasure got a fastball in on Zunino's hand that was weakly grounded to shortstop to end the game.

"The whole goal of the ninth was to see if we could get Tucker and Zunino up, and we did," O'Sullivan said. "We just couldn't do enough."

Florida hosts Bethune-Cookman at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Sophomore right-hander Karsten Whitson will get the start.

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