Photo by Danny Parker

Freshmen lead Gators to 5-4 win over Bama

Florida freshman Brady Singer got the surprise start Thursday, the first of his career, and pitched marvelous baseball for six innings and freshman outfielder Danny Reyes notched two doubles including one that landed the game winning RBI as Florida defeated Alabama to stay alive in the SEC Baseball Tournament.

The Gators scored in the first inning to take an early lead without hitting the baseball. Alabama starter Jake Walters walked three in the inning and the Gators plated a run with freshman Jonathan India’s grounder to third that scored junior Buddy Reed.

Singer, who was throwing because starter Logan Shore was out with a stomach ailment, would hold the Crimson Tide in the first going three-up and three-down, but Alabama found a spark in the second scoring three runs. Senior Daniel Cucjen got the scoring going with a two RBI double. Junior Hunter Webb would double scoring Cucjen to finish off the scoring in the inning and giving the Crimson Tide the 3-2 lead.

Bama’s Walters would be replaced in the third inning with accuracy issues and after RBI singles from J.J. Schwarz and India’s single through the left side. Matt Foster would relieve at that point and Schwarz would score on a fielder’s choice hit at second base. Foster finished the inning and then shut Florida down for the next four.  

Likewise, Singer was excellent allowing only one more hit and finishing six innings. He was pulled in the seventh after walking a batter and hitting another. Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan would then use four other pitchers to finish the inning. Junior Frank Rubio would come in and throw to Cucjen who fouled three straight bunt attempts on the way to a strike out. Rubio struck out Webb as well. Junior lefty Kirby Snead would then replace Rubio and Bama countered with pinch hitter Connor Short who singles and scores Henry for Alabama to tie the game at 4. Freshman Michael Byrne would replace Snead and after a sharp hit ball to third that India couldn’t handle, he was quickly replaced by sophomore Nick Horvath gets senior Georgie Salem to pop up to Reed for the final out of the inning.

"Obviously that was a difficult game for us with the short turn out from last night,” O’Sullivan said. “I thought Brady (Singer) threw the ball really well. I thought Alabama did a nice job scoring three runs with two outs in the second inning. Brady continued to pitch and put up four zeros after, which gave us a lift. I think today was a really big step in the right direction for Brady. I think it's a big day for his development, especially on a stage like this. I thought the bullpen was fine.”

With the 4-4 tie, the table was set for freshman Reyes when Mike Rivera hit for the fourth time on the day and landed on first. Freshman Deacon Liput would sacrifice Rivera over to second base. Then Reyes comes through with a double down the left field line that scores Rivera. It was Reyes’ second double of the day.

"It was definitely big,” Reyes said of the game winning RBI double. “I came out with a situation with two outs and a man on second. We really harp on two-out hits. Last night was definitely a long night, and we didn't get that hit, so I was glad I was able to come through today for the team."

Horvath would set them up and knock them down 1-2-3 I the 8th before closer Shaun Anderson would strike out t and have his own 1-2-3 inning to finish off the win.

O’Sullivan pointed out a few guys that did the job at the plate, something he has been searching for since leading hitter Peter Alonso went down a few weeks ago.

“I think a few players had big games like JJ (Schwarz) had a couple hits and Danny Reyes. I thought Danny gave us a nice lift and got the big hit in the eighth inning. What can you say about Mike Rivera? He caught 14 innings last night and had some really (nice) at-bats today. We are looking forward to tomorrow to whomever we play. It is important for us to get Alex Faedo back out there for starting for a regional and look forward to getting him back out there."

The Gators started five freshmen on the day with the injury to Alonso and with Logan Shore out of the lineup with a stomach bug. Singer and Reyes played dynamite given the circumstances and O’Sullivan had to really play with things with the pitching situation.
"Today we got a lot of guys on the mound,” he said. “Brady got his first start of his career. You try to do whatever you can to win, but I do think you try and get some value out of it. You walk out of here today and Danny Reyes might get shot in the arm, then he got two hits. There are some things that you can take out of today. In the grand scheme of things does it matter? I don't know. We are here and we want to win. You don't want to tact your arms where it isn't going to affect yourself next week or get anyone injured for that matter. I thought today was a really great and positive day. There are some things we will take away from it but in the end we strapped it on offensively when we needed it."


Florida will face either Mississippi State or LSU on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network. Sophomore right hander Alex Faedo is expected to start for the Gators in the contest. 

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