Gators drop fifth straight

The scoreboard stemmed in McKethan Stadium has flashed digits past the ninth inning mark three times this season. Three times this season, those extra innings games have ended with the highest number sitting on the visitor's line. Tuesday was the most recent occurrence, when UF fell to UNF 7-6 in 10 innings.

Junior right-hander Keenan Kish chalked up his second career start Tuesday, facing off against North Florida right-handed pitcher David Texler. Kish held the Ospreys scoreless until the third inning when UNF leadoff batter and second baseman Joe Wielbruda gunned the order with a single into right field. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and was joined on the base paths by teammate Drew Weeks who was hit by a pitch. Kevin O'Sullivan trekked to the mound and replaced Kish with freshman right-hander Mike Vinson.

Though Vinson struck out the first batter he faced, he followed by delivering a walk to first baseman Corbin Olmstead to load the bases. Designated hitter Donnie Dewees pulled a two-run single up the middle to put North Florida ahead 2-0. Third baseman Paul Karmeris followed with a groundout RBI to further the Ospreys' lead 3-0.

Vinson boasted a quick 1-2-3 inning to fire off the fourth inning for Florida, carrying momentum onto the offense. Third baseman Zack Powers lead off with a single into right field off the first pitch he saw. Catcher Taylor Gushue followed suit with a single through the right side to put runners on the corners for first baseman Vickash Ramjit. The senior captain registered a sacrifice fly to left field to bring Powers home.

Freshman left fielder Christian Dicks, who was riding his first career start, powered a double into right field to put runners on second and third for fellow freshman and designated hitter Brady Roberson.

"It's your first start and you want to come out aggressive," Dicks said. "You're just hoping to hit the ball hard somewhere and it seemed to work out."

Roberson, too, was penned on the starting lineup for the first time of his career. The freshman's brother Ryan was in the dugout for North Florida, a junior on the Ospreys roster.

"I felt like they needed the opportunity," O'Sullivan said of starting the two freshmen for the first time. "We needed to change things up a little bit. Christian had a really good game and Brady can hit. We just needed to switch things up."

Roberson singled down the right field line to tie the game, prompting a pitching change to Tommy Organ.

The Ospreys answered back in the fifth, pulling back-to-back one-out singles. After 36 pitches, O'Sullivan swapped Vinson for freshman right-hander Parker Danciu. Dewees reached on a fielder's choice and Karmeris doubled into right field to pull UNF ahead 4-3.

The Gators turned to yet another freshman pitcher to escape the inning, putting the ball in the hands of Jay Carmichael.

Florida's defense started the sixth inning strong, but after issuing a two-out walk, UF turned back to its bullpen. Right-handed sophomore Ryan Harris took the hill to bring the Gators back to the plate.

Sophomore second baseman Casey Turgeon pulled a single to right center to score freshman pinch hitter Harrison Bader and tie the game at 4, prompting a pitching change to Ryan McMahon.

The Ospreys continued to fight at the top of the seventh when Weeks tripled into right center. Marincov followed with an RBI double and Karmeris with an RBI single up the middle to give UNF a 6-4 advantage.

It wasn't until the ninth inning that UF threatened the scoreboard. Turgeon led off with a single into left center, followed by Justin Shafer doubling down the left-field line. Though North Florida swapped McMahon for Jamie Cardwell, Powers brought Turgeon home off his groundout RBI. Gushue's two-out sacrifice fly tied the game 6-6.

For the third time this season, Florida progressed into extra innings. At the top of the 10th inning, the Gators moved into trouble by allowing a leadoff single to centerfielder Alex Bacon. Bacon quickly moved along the base paths off a sacrifice hit and a balk, putting him on third for catcher Corey Bass. Bass doubled into center to bring Bacon back home and deliver UNF with a final 7-6 lead.

The Gators turned toward its bullpen yet again, finishing the defense for the day at the helm of right-hander Johnny Magliozzi. Though Florida was able to put two on base in the bottom of the tenth with pinch hitter Connor Mitchell and Richie Martin on one and two from an error and a walk, the offense failed to execute.

The loss marks UF's fifth straight loss and third loss in extra innings this season.

"I'm just a little disappointed," O'Sullivan said. "I mean, this is not a time to panic or start pointing fingers. We just have to play better."

O'Sullivan said this year's team is having trouble with things he didn't anticipate including rough starts from pitchers, getting runners on base and bringing in those runners in scoring positions.

"Nothing's changed," O'Sullivan said. "Feb. 14th we all thought we had a really good club. I refuse to think that after nine games that we do not. We do. We're just not playing very well. We need to get it going."

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