Elih Marraro started a productive 2nd inning for the Bulldogs with a one-out triple. A walk, groundout, single and a wild pitch from Shore (6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 K) led to the only two runs the Gators would allow on the evening. The Gators began their rally in the 3rd inning when an error, single, and wild pitch allowed Florida to cut the deficit in half. Hudson (5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) dominated Florida’s batters with a mid-90’s fastball and curveball that he located well. That is until the 5th, when his school-record stretch of 34.2 consecutive innings without yielding an earned run came to an abrupt end.
Shore escaped the top half of the pivotal inning after having runners on the corners and only one out. Right fielder Jeremy Vasquez (1-3, R) and left fielder Nelson Maldonado (2-4, 2 R) singled before freshman Jonathan India (1-4, 2 R, 2B) crushed an RBI double to right-center tying the game at two. The inning would get worse for Hudson, as four batters would see bases load with one out or less in the inning. Buddy Reed (1-4, R, K) JJ Schwarz (2-5, 2 RBI), and Deacon Liput (1-4) would all add RBI singles for a total of five runs in the inning, which included a season-high seven hits for the stanza. Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan was quick to point out what that inning meant to the team after the game.
“"The difference in the ballgame was the fifth, when they had first and third with one out. They had the middle of the order up and we got a strikeout by Logan (Shore) and then we got the third out and they didn't score. Then, we came back and put up a five spot in the fifth. I thought (Jonathan) India had some really good swings, and Nelson (Maldonado) had a really good swing and really got it going, and then the bottom of the order, the 7, 8 and 9 slots, did a nice job.”
Despite being roughed up in the 5th, O’Sullivan had high praise for a top player.
“His (RHP Dakota Hudson) numbers just speak for themselves and obviously he's going to be a very high draft pick and he's going to pitch for an awfully long time.
India was also impressed by the by junior’s elite talent, understanding the importance of jumping on a player of his caliber.
“He is a very good pitcher. We executed at the right time. With runners on first and second, we had to do something to move runners over, and we did. But, he is a very good pitcher. We were trying to lay off the off-speed and cutter. They are good pitches, so we were just being more selective. We were looking for the fastball, and we didn’t miss that first pitch.”
Junior Kirby Snead (2.1, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K) was electric once again, holding the Bulldogs at bay as the offense coasted in the latter innings, adding two more runs in the 8th through a Dalton Guthrie (3-4, BB) RBI single and yet another wild pitch on the night. Shore has been impressed by the contribution the fellow junior has provided since conference play began. Right-handers Nick Horvath and Frank Rubio relieved Snead and combined to pitch a scoreless 9th, taking the Gators to 8-2 in SEC play.
““Over the last two weeks, he has done a great job. It makes it a lot easier to come out of the game when you know you have someone like that coming in behind you who will come in and strand runners.”
While extending their school-record home winning streak to 29 games, the Gators also notched their 13th come-from-behind win on the year and moved to 9-1 against ranked competition on the season. The Gators offense, which struggled in the early months of the season, has come alive at the right time, recording at least 12 hits in each of the last 5 games. As the opposition has improved, the Gators effort and focus rose to match it. Tonight was no exception.
"We had a really good approach to this game and you obviously need to,” O’Sullivan reminded us. “It was a great effort by our players. We had a great game plan, and it's easy to do that on paper and I talked about it before the game, but it's another thing when the players go out and actually execute the game plan. I am pleased with and proud of the way we played tonight."
The Gators will look to take the series from the Bulldogs in game two Saturday night (7:30pm SECN+). Sophomore right-hander Alex Faedo (6-0, 2.53) takes on Mississippi State junior right-hander Austin Sexton (3-1, 2.98).