Comeback falls short as Florida drops series

The Gators scored four runs in the ninth inning to cut the deficit to one run, but they couldn’t get the run across to tie it.

With runners on second and third with two outs, Florida shortstop Richie Martin bunted the ball back to pitcher Logan Salow, who threw out the tying run at the plate to end the game. Kentucky escaped with a 7-6 win and the series win.

After being shut out for the first time this season on Friday, Florida scored just two runs in the first eight innings on Saturday. Kentucky starting pitcher Dustin Beggs exited after 8.1 innings, allowing six hits, three runs and two walks while striking out six hitters.

“I thought after the second inning that we were going to get to him,” O’Sullivan said. “I didn’t think it was his best stuff, but he got better as the game went on. His breaking ball got better and he just got stronger. He battled and did a heck of a job.”

The Gators were able to get the winning run into scoring position in the final inning, but the bunt ended any chance of a comeback. O’Sullivan said after the game that he made the call for the bunt from the dugout.

“(The third baseman) was playing three or four steps behind the bag,” O’Sullivan said. “If he gets it down, nobody says anything, but that’s not the game. A lot of it had to do with the second inning with our pitching.”

Florida starter Dane Dunning lasted just 1.1 innings, losing his control. He struck out the first hitter, but a wild third strike allowed the runner to reach. Dunning then hit three straight batters, bringing in one run and a wild pitch later brought in another. Two batters later, Evan White ended Dunning’s day with a two-run double.

“We kind of fell apart,” O’Sullivan said. “Bases loaded with nobody out and then we give up a four-spot. I didn’t anticipate that. (Dunning) came off a good start against Mississippi State and just didn’t throw the ball well.”

The only positive on the night was the four-run ninth inning for Florida. The message to the team is to use that momentum while going into Sunday’s series finale at 12:30 p.m.

“Our guys battled back,” O’Sullivan said. “It could’ve been easy for our guys to sit back and not battle. We’ve got to take that momentum into tomorrow. It’s just that simple. We’ve got to come out and play better.”

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