Gators Drop NCAA Opener

Roughly 24 hours after the Gator softball team was surprised in the first game of the College World Series the Gator baseball team also lost its first NCAA action of the weekend.

Tulane scored six runs in the seventh inning to rally for a 7-4 win over the Gators in the opening game of the NCAA Regional in Tallahassee. Florida's loss puts the Gators into a "loser's out" game against Bucknell Saturday afternoon unless the Bison shocks FSU.

Coming into the contest the pitching match up certainly favored the lower seeded Tulane squad. The Green Wave sent probable first round draft pick Shooter Hunt (9-3, 2.45, 119 K) to the hill, while the Gators counted with junior lefty Stephen Locke (5-2, 3.07, 43 K). Early on both pitchers were effective, matching zeros through four innings.

Tulane got on the board in the fifth, loading the bases against Locke with nobody out. The Gator veteran got out of it with minimal damage, coaxing a double play grounder from Seth Henry on which a run scored, and then getting Tulane's top hitter Rob Segedin to fly out to end the inning.

It was still a 1-0 game into the sixth when the Gators put together a big inning. Cole Figueroa singled and scored all the way from first when Tulane mishandled Brandon McArthur's bloop double to right center field. Josh Adams was called upon to sacrifice McArthur to third, but he was safe and McArthur scored when Hunt threw the ball down the right field line. Jon Townsend followed with a homer off the scoreboard to give the Gators a 4-1 Gator lead. Townsend's homer also sent Hunt to the showers.

Tulane came right back at the Gators in the top of the seventh. The Green Wave put men on first and second with no one out ending the day for Locke. That pitching change turned out to be a disaster. Billy Bullock came in out of the bullpen to face the Green Wave leadoff man Scott Powell. Powell dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt that became a single, loading the bases. Bullock responded by uncorking a wild pitch to make it 4-2 and advance runners to second and third. Anthony Scelfo followed with an RBI single before Seth Henry tied the game with another base hit. Rob Segedin tried to bunt the runners along, but Bullock walked him to load the bases again. Bullock threw another wild pitch and Tulane took a 5-4 lead. Bullock finally retired a batter when Jared Dyer flied out to left, but that was more bad news for the Gators as Henry scored the fifth run of the inning.

Coach Kevin O'Sullivan lifted Bullock for lefty Tony Davis who promptly struck out Sam Honeck. That brought in Kyle Mullaney to face Drew Allain with Segedin still on second base. The righty/righty match up didn't work for the Gators and Allain delivered an RBI single to make it a six run inning.

Neither team was able to score the rest of the way, and Tulane had a 7-4 win. Tulane reliever Nick Pepitone (3-1) got the win while Bullock (4-5) took the loss after allowing three runs in just a third of an inning.

The loss dropped the Gators to 34-23 on the year and sent Florida into the loser's bracket. As a result, they will have to win four games in the next three days in order to advance to the Super Regional.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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