Through the course of a season, teams go through tough times. Florida (32-16) has dropped six of their last eight games, losing some of the much deserved respect the pre-season third place SEC Eastern Division picks had fought to achieve. For the moment, some loss of respect is deserved. Tonight, Florida was inconsistent in every facet of the game. Missed offensive opportunities, pitching faux pas, and defensive lapses all contributed to senior Jeff Corsaletti swinging a post game hammer which hit the nail squarely on the head as he seemingly assessed the present state of the Florida baseball team.
"Stuff starts catching up with you know?" Corsaletti stated. "Early in the year I thought that we were getting away with not making quality pitches or having quality AB's (at bats). Teams would kick it around and we'd get lucky, but it's a long season and stuff going to catch up with you. It happens".
"It happened tonight' he angrily said. "We had guys in scoring position with less than two outs and you've got to execute. We hit two home runs in the first inning, guys just started swinging for the fences. You can't do that. You have to shorten up and put the ball in play and let things work. That's all we've got to do. You can't strikeout, and you can't not put the ball into play. Anytime that happens, you're not going to win games. Guys have got to step up and have got to get it done or we're not going to have a long postseason run after all".
Corsaletti was dead on in his assessment. This was a total team loss.
Offensively, Florida had the bases loaded in the fourth with one out, only to see its' number four and five hitters strike out. Two runners were with one out in the sixth, but the Gators number three and four hitters fouled out and struck out respectively. In the eight, the Gators had two runners on with no outs only to see the number two slot pop out in an attempted bunt to the mound, the number three hitter foul out, and the number four hitter strike out.
The pitching collapse began in the eighth inning with the Gators holding a 7-5 lead. Right hander Darren O'Day got the Bulls leading hitter Jon Baisley to ground out to Justin Tordi at short. Brian Baisley followed with a single to center. Coach Pat McMahon went to the pen for left hander Steven Porter. The sophomore promptly walked pinch hitter Matt McHargue (.252) and Brian Baisley (.316) to load the bases. Connor Falkenbach was called in to replace Porter. He struck out shortstop Dexter Butler to record the second out. However, pinch hitter Tim Orlosky hit the first triple of his career to clear the bases and secure the victory for South Florida.
Defensively, two errors by third baseman Brandon McArthur allowed one unearned run and another inning to continue without the runner advancing.
The Gators were led at the plate by Corsaletti, who got on base four times tonight. The center fielder went one for two and walked three times. Left fielder Gavin Dickey went two for five with two RBI's, but popped up a bunt to the mound that he should have let go for a ball. Matt LaPorta and Adam Davis hit back-to-back home runs for Florida in the bottom of the first inning. LaPorta leads the SEC in home runs. The Gators struck out six times tonight, with LaPorta uncharacteristically recording three of those K's.
"We're a good team" Corso added. "We have good players. When guys try to do too much, that's when we get beat. All we've got to do is throw the ball in the strike zone and have quality AB's and I think that we can play with anybody. If we execute, we're going to be alright. You know, we're not doing that".
The Gators get another chance to turn the alarm off as they travel to Tampa to play South Florida tomorrow night at 7pm.