Quiet Bats Return to Slow Gators

After four straight games with double-digit hit totals, the Florida offense took a step back on Thursday. The Gators totaled just four hits and left eleven runners on base as the offense again couldn't come up with the big hit. The pitching staff was strong again, but the offense couldn't help them out as the Gators fell into the loser's bracket following a 2-1 loss to Vanderbilt in Hoover.

"We didn't respond with the bats," Florida assistant coach Brad Weitzel said on the post game radio show. "We didn't hit well at all tonight, in fact, I don't even know if we brought the bats to the ballpark tonight.

"We need to go hit right now. I don't know if we can do it because of NCAA rules."

The Florida offense worked five walks and two hit by pitches. Those combined with the four hits produced plenty of base runners to make the offense work. However, when they got on base, the Florida offense went stagnant.

The Gators went 0-8 with runners in scoring position as the same problems continued from before the previous four games when the Gators played Auburn.

Vanderbilt junior left-hander Sam Selman allowed two hits over six shutout innings, but he walked four and hit two. He struck out seven Florida hitters and missed bats throughout his start.

"Selman pitched really, really good," Weitzel said. "Four walks kept him in trouble, and we need to take advantage of that. We didn't get a two-out hit when we needed it early.

"We drove up (Selman's) pitch count, but we had some strikeouts and bad swings at balls out of the strike zone that would've led to more walks. We could've had him out of the game a lot earlier, but our pitch selection and zone was too big. We got really big with our swings and totally out of character."

Hudson Randall didn't have his best outing but kept the Gators in the game. Randall lasted 5.2 innings, giving up three hits, two walks, two runs and one strikeout. The two walks ended up serving as the dagger.

Randall walked back-to-back hitters for the first time in his Florida career with two outs in the fourth inning. Vanderbilt designated hitter Riley Reynolds followed with a two-run double in the right-center gap to give the Commodores all the runs they would need.

"Huddy pitched great," Weitzel said. "One swing and two runs, but he walked two guys on four pitches, which no one ever sees that (from him). Huddy had a great performance. He didn't have his best stuff or command, but he really battled. We didn't score any runs for him. I feel bad for Huddy.

"We know he's going to give us his best shot. He's a battler and kept us in the game."

After Randall was pulled, the Gators got some experience on the mound for the younger arms on the team. Bobby Poyner, Keenan Kish, Daniel Gibson, Ryan Harris and Corey Stump combined to throw a perfect final 2.1 innings of the game.

"That was great to get those guys in there," Weitzel said. "They did great and got some experience. It's going to help us down the road."

The Gators will play an elimination game on Friday against No. 2 seed South Carolina. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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