Florida drops sloppy game to FGCU

The Gators got the pitching they needed, but the defense wasn't able to help. Florida made four errors and had multiple other defensive mistakes throughout the night, allowing Florida Gulf Coast to score two unearned runs. The Gators weren't able to score enough to make up for the mistakes, as the Eagles beat Florida 2-1, their fourth win in the last five meetings between the teams.

"Gotta keep the ball in front of you," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We had too many errors with the ball under the glove. It's as simple as that."

Florida made errors in four different innings – allowing them to score in two of them. With one out in the third inning, Florida first baseman A.J. Puk dropped a catchable throwing, allowing Florida Gulf Coast's nine-hole hitter to reach base. The Eagles' second baseman Jake Noll followed doubling down the left field line, giving them a lead.

Eagles center fielder Gage Morey started the fifth with a single up the middle, but the ball bounced off Florida center fielder Buddy Reed, allowing Morey to take second. Noll singled him in two batters later, pushing the FGCU lead to 2-0.

The Eagles threatened again in the ninth inning -- helped by shortstop Richie Martin's second error of the game -- but freshmen Kirby Snead and Shaun Anderson pitched out of the jam.

"It was uncharacteristic and really frustrating," Florida catcher Braden Mattson said about defensive mistakes. "The errors and then a little laziness after the errors. It's fine, you boot a ball, but you can't let it snowball like that."

The Florida offense was just as sloppy. The Gators had three chances with runners on third and less than two outs, only for juniors to not get the job done. In the first inning, Zack Powers struck out with the bases loaded and one out. With a runner on third and one out in the seventh inning, Justin Shafer popped out to right field but it wasn't deep enough to score the run.

The big blow came in the eighth inning. With two runners in scoring position and the Gators down two runs with one out, Taylor Gushue worked the count to 3-0 against FGCU reliever Brady Anderson. However, Anderson worked his way back into the count and struck Gushue out on a breaking ball in the dirt.

Braden Mattson followed with an RBI infield single, but it was the only run Florida scored. The three opportunities with a runner at third killed any hope the Gators had for an offensive breakout.

"We had three opportunities with runners on third and less than two outs," O'Sullivan said. "And older guys. They're older guys. You have got to put the ball in play. Have more competitive at-bats. We're talking about putting the ball in play, executing and handle the bat. Just hit a ground ball."

O'Sullivan was confident in his team's game plan going into the game, but the players didn't execute when seeing the pitches they planned for.

"We knew he was going to throw breaking balls early and in fastball counts, especially with runners in scoring position," O'Sullivan said. "We knew left-handers were going to get changeups early and in fastball counts. We knew that. We weren't able to make an adjustment."

The struggles of the upperclassmen could provide extra opportunities for freshmen to get extra playing time.

"I think we shake it up," O'Sullivan said.

The Gators had enough to win on the mound. Freshman Logan Shore was impressive in his third outing this season, holding FGCU to six hits, no walks and no earned runs. He set a high for a Florida pitcher this season with six innings and seven strikeouts.

The errors hung Shore with the loss, but the freshman lowered his season ERA to 0.69.

"It's frustrating, but it's a part of the game," Shore said. "Players are going to boot balls. I just did my best to limit the damage and get us in the dugout with as few runs as possible."

Eric Hanhold, Aaron Rhodes, Snead and Anderson combined to throw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit.

Florida continues in action this weekend against Illinois on Friday at 7 p.m. The Gators have to turn it around quickly for their final three games this weekend.

"We've got no choice," O'Sullivan. We've got a good Illinois team tomorrow and facing their No. 1. We've got to be ready to go."


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