Troubles in first inning cost Florida

Saturday's series finale was over before Florida came to the plate. Karsten Whitson started the game after being honored on Senior Day, but he only recorded one out while giving up five runs. It didn't get better for Florida from there. Vanderbilt's eight-run first inning was all it needed, earning the series win with a 16-2 win over Florida on Saturday.

Karsten Whitson's outing was the worst of his career. He walked the bases loaded to start the game before Zander Wiel lined a two-run single up the middle. After a sacrifice bunt, Whitson allowed a long three-run home run to Vanderbilt shortstop Vince Conde.

He was pulled after the home run, recording one out on Senior Day. Whitson gave up two hits, five runs and three walks on 26 pitches.

"Trying to hang with him as long as possible," O'Sullivan said. "I wanted this to be a positive day for all the seniors. It's just one of those days it didn't work out."

The damage didn't stop when he came out. Freshman left-hander A.J. Puk came into the game and struck out the first batter he faced, but catcher Taylor Gushue threw the ball up the right field line while attempting to complete the strike out with a throw to first. Puk walked the next batter, and after a sacrifice bunt was popped up, Dansby Swanson followed with a three-run home run in his second at-bat of the inning to make it 8-0 before the Gators even hit.

Florida pitchers walked 10 total hitters, eclipsing the previous season high of eight, and seven of them scored.

"Very uncharacteristic of us," O'Sullivan said. "We usually don't do that. This game is contagious, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Hitting is contagious, pitching is contagious and good defense is contagious. But it can be the other side of it, too. You start walking guys and then get behind the eight ball. It spiraled out of control."

The lone Florida offensive highlight came on Richie Martin's first career home run in the eighth inning.

The team will get back to practices on Sunday and Monday, but the message from the coaches remains the same.

"We're in first place in the league with three games to go. Everybody in that locker room would have taken that before the season started. There's a lot of knee-jerk reactions. This is a disappointing day and weekend, but I don't want to overreact here.

"Forty eight hours ago, we're talking about us winning 12 consecutive SEC games and setting the school record," O'Sullivan said. "Forty eight hours later, I don't want guys jumping off cliffs and acting like the season is coming to an end."

Florida returns to action on Tuesday against South Florida at 7 p.m.

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