Gators win another low-scoring affair

Kevin O'Sullivan knew what the situation called for. After Buddy Reed's leadoff single in the 10th inning, he thought about putting on the bunt. But that same call hadn't helped the Gators in recent games, so he decided to change it up. O'Sullivan put Reed in motion, allowing him to steal second and ultimately score the game winning run when a pitch hit Zack Powers with the bases loaded.

It was the first multi-hit game for freshman center fielder Buddy Reed, who has struggled at the plate this season. Saturday provided some optimism. He doubled down the right field line as a right-handed hitter before lining his 10th inning single up the middle from the left side.

O'Sullivan saw in previous sacrifice bunt attempts that Connecticut was sending its corner infielders charging toward the plate to field the bunt, setting Florida up for failure if either of them fielded it. So he went with a different approach, green-lighting Reed for the stolen base.

The freshman raised his batting average to .196 and will continue to get chances in the outfield.

"That was a really good at-bat in the last inning," O'Sullivan said. "I told him that after the game, build off that. The guy's throwing the ball 90-91 and he sticks his nose in there and puts a good swing on a ball, steals a bag. That's pretty good stuff."

After reaching second base, Reed moved to third when Richie Martin reached on a bunt single. Connecticut intentionally walked Casey Turgeon to load the bases with no outs and set up a force out at home plate, but reliever David Mahoney hit Zack Powers with his first pitch of the game, giving Florida the win.

The offense still isn't where Florida wants it to be -- just three runs in the last 18 innings -- but the optimism continues from the bench. O'Sullivan expects his team to break out of its funk soon and hopes back-to-back walk-off wins can provide the spark.

"The bottom line is the offense will come around," O'Sullivan said. "I'm going to keep saying it and saying it. I'm going to believe it. This is a mental game and they've got to get going. It's our job as coaches to be creative and try to figure out ways to get them going.

"The offense will come around. I've seen them play in the fall, and I've seen them play in the spring."

Freshman left-hander A.J. Puk started the game and lasted 4.1 innings, giving up three hits, one run and one walk while striking out seven hitters. He handed the ball to the bullpen, which tossed 5.2 shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out nine hitters.

Without much margin of error with a struggling offense, O'Sullivan continues to lean on his bullpen and get success.

"There's going to be a stretch in our season where we're going to win a few 10-9 ballgames and the offense will pick us up," O'Sullivan said. "We're throwing the ball pretty good right now but it's a long season. We're not going to point fingers or complain."

The Gators will go for the series sweep on Sunday against the Huskies. Florida will send junior right-hander Karsten Whitson to the mound. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

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