BASEBALL: Hatters cap Florida rally 7-6

Early on it appeared that those infamous words of Yogi Berra were ringing all too true. Just as they had on Sunday, Florida found themselves down five to Arkansas at McKethan Stadium. Likewise, it was the middle of the third and the Gators bats were cool to the touch. Meanwhile, the relievers came on to shut down the Stetson offense and provide Florida with a window of opportunity. It was seemingly déjà vu all over again.

However, the Florida players revised the script and began closing the gap in the bottom of the third when left fielder Chris Petrie ripped a solo shot into the left field bleachers. Three batters later, shortstop Adam Davis jacked one over that same left field fence and Florida trailed 5-2.

Two innings later, Petrie singled with one out and moved to second on an error. Right fielder Austin Pride launched a ball that fell somewhere in the vicinity of the O'Connell Center for a two-run shot that closed the Hatters lead to a single run at 5-4.

The seventh inning saw Stetson solve Josh Edmondson, who had come on in the fifth for J.K. LaCoste as the pair kept the Hatters bats silent. The visitors from DeLand pieced together four hits, scoring two for a 7-4 advantage.

The Gators answered with a pair of runs. Greg Quatrino led off the inning with a pinch hit single. Petrie followed with his third hit of the evening, a single through the left side. Pride stepped up to the plate and blasted a double down the left field line that scored both runners and gave Florida the go ahead run in scoring position with none out.

Coach Pat McMahon opted to pinch hit Matt Gaski for Avery Barnes. Gaski was unable to move Pride over as he struck out swinging. Davis then fouled out to the first base side. Matt LaPorta followed by giving the ball a ride to the centerfield wall at the 400 mark that was hauled in by Shane Jordan.

Darren O'Day pitched the final 2.1 innings of shutout ball against the Hatters. The move gave Florida an outstanding opportunity to rally.

Hatters coach Pete Dunn relieved starter Nathan Nery, who pitches in the Hatters weekend rotation, with ace Chris Ingoglia and closer Robbie Elsemiller in the final three innings. Florida would face the Stetson elite.

Unlike last Sunday, the Gators left six men on base, five of them in innings six through nine. The drama played out especially cruel in the bottom of the ninth as Gaski doubled down the line in left for a one out double. Davis lined to center for the second out bringing up defending national home run king Matt LaPorta. Gaski moved to third on Elsemillers' wild pitch and you could seemingly sense that extra innings were at least on tap for the mighty Gators. However, LaPorta was caught looking at a strike three on a 2-2 count to end the game. Stetson had defeated Florida 7-6.

Ninth ranked Florida (17-8) was led at the plate by Austin Pride, who was two for four with a double a home run. Pride finished with a career high four runs batted in. Chris Petrie went three for four with a home run. They were the only two players who had multiple hits.

Tommy Wynn (0-1) picked up the loss. Wynn started the game and struggled with his location. He lasted only 1.1 innings and allowed four hits on four runs and walked two.

The Gators will travel to Columbia, South Carolina on Friday for a weekend series with the Gamecocks (18-3). Both clubs share the lead with Kentucky and Vanderbilt at 2-1 in conference play.

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