The Wildcats brought the nation’s No. 271 RPI to Gainesville coming into the game, and a loss would’ve been a black eye on Florida’s national seed resume. After Bethune-Cookman tied the game with a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning, Florida senior third baseman Josh Tobias followed with a two-out RBI single in the bottom half of the inning.
Florida left-hander Bobby Poyner, who allowed the two-out single that tied the game, pitched a clean ninth inning that helped the Gators escape with a 2-1 win.
“The disappointing thing is we’d just come off a really good weekend and you would hope we would be able to maintain some momentum for the weekend," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said on the post game radio show. "The important thing is we did win. We won the ballgame. We had to do some good things to win the ballgame, but I’m just not sure we showed up offensively.”
The problem for Florida came at the plate. The offense has carried the team in recent weeks, but all it produced early on Tuesday was lazy fly balls. The Gators didn’t get their first hit of the game until Richie Martin led off the sixth inning with a bunt single. He scored with two outs after Buddy Reed hit a high infield fly ball that fell after the Bethune-Cookman defense didn’t communicate.
Florida tallied just four hits on the night. Two of them were by Martin, who scored the final run of the game after starting the eighth inning with a double.
“Offensively, I don’t know. There’s really not an answer for why we came out the way we did tonight," O'Sullivan said. "We talked about some games last year that we dropped midweek and that we needed to come out ready to play. Ultimately, it falls back on me. I’ve got to do a better job getting these guys ready to play.”
On the mound, Florida pitchers carried the load. Eric Hanhold got the start and threw 5.1 shutout innings, allowing five hits and no walks while striking out a career-high seven hitters.
Hanhold allowed a one-out double in the sixth inning, and he was pulled for A.J. Puk, who returned from suspension on Tuesday. The sophomore left-hander hit a batter and walked the next one to load the bases with one out. Aaron Rhodes entered the game and got a ground ball back to him, throwing home to start a double play that ended by getting the runner at first.
“Hanhold, that’s the best he has looked all year. Really pleased with how he threw," O'Sullivan said. "It was good to get Rhodes out there again and Poyner did a nice job. Pitching-wise, we were good tonight and we needed to be because of the way we were swinging the bat.
Florida will host Kentucky for a three-game series this weekend, starting on Friday at 7 p.m.