Florida (35-14, 16-8 SEC) issued 17 walks, the most in 10 seasons under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, and No. 23 USF (38-10, 12-6 AAC) jumped out to a 13-3 lead before the Gators mounted a late comeback.
UF scored seven runs in the final two innings, including five runs in the ninth, to cut the deficit to five but a grounder to first base ended the comeback attempt.
The visitors jumped out to a quick lead in the top of the first. After a two-out walk, USF’s Joe Genord hit a home run over the left field bleachers for a 2-0 lead.
The Gators got a run back in the second on Jonathan India’s sixth home run of the season.
USF exploded in the fourth, scoring six runs on four hits. The first four batters of the inning reached base courtesy of three walks and a single.
After a pitching change, Coco Montes ripped a two-run double that scored a pair of runs. A two-out single from Kevin Merrell brought in another pair of runs to give the Bulls an 8-1 lead.
JJ Schwarz hit a solo shot to left center to get one run back for the Gators and UF scored a run in the fifth to cut the deficit to 9-3 but the Bulls scored four unanswered to take a 13-3 lead into the eighth inning.
The Gators scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning on a two-run single from Blake Reese. After USF scored two runs of its own in the top of the ninth, Florida added five runs in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Larson had a two RBI single for the final runs.
Florida hits the road this weekend for a three-game series at Alabama. The Crimson Tide are coming off a weekend sweep of Auburn.
Game one is Friday at 7 p.m. ET and will stream live on SEC Network+. Saturday’s game is 7 p.m. ET and the finale will be at 4 p.m.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan Quotes:
“Well, it’s been a year of firsts for a lot of things. I’ve never seen a defensive game by an infielder like Dalton had at Georgia. I think we played as good of baseball as we’ve played all year long last weekend against Ole Miss. We’ve played 25 one-run games this year. Tonight, we walk 17 guys. The most we had ever had [in my 10 years] was 10. The most remarkable part of the whole thing is only made one error. When you walk 17, you look up at the board and you’ve made three or four errors. Five of the guys that threw tonight were freshmen. Obviously Garrett has thrown in some high pressure situations. We started him because we wanted to give him a couple innings of work. The thing that’s going on with some of our freshmen is they’re coming in and having one good inning then when you run them back out there for the second inning it’s not as clean. We try to help them and get the point across that they don’t have to do it on their own. We play such good defense that there’s really no need to be walking that many guys. For these young pitchers, if you keep harping on walks, it’s like free throw shooting in basketball, it’s contagious. I think tonight was just one of those nights where it got to a point and it just got out of hand.
“We battled there at the end, a couple more batters and maybe we get the tying run to the plate. South Florida played great. Their pitcher D.J. Roberts threw the ball very well. It’s just one of those nights. We can’t let one game … we’ve been playing so well, I think we’ve won 15 of our last 17 coming into tonight. We’ve got six league games left and we’re tied for first. We can’t let this one game affect our psyche or how we’re feeling about ourselves because we’ve been playing for so long. We’ll come back and practice tomorrow and get ready for Alabama.”