For the second straight weekend the Gators played two and lost two and the season is now over. Coach Kevin O'Sullivan's team dropped a 17-11 slug fest to Florida State to finish the season at 34-24, ending the year on a down note with four consecutive losses.
The Gators will have much to brood about over the way the weekend in Tallahassee played out. Florida enjoyed a 4-1 lead early before losing to Tulane on Friday. They followed that up by letting a 5-1 lead get away against the Seminoles. Florida simply couldn't get anything done on the mound as one pitcher after another served up batting practice to the nation's top hitting ball club. FSU's offensive assault came just about 14 hours after the ‘Noles were shutout by Bucknell in their first round game.
It started well enough for the Gators who got an RBI single from Matt den Dekker in the first and RBI from Riley Cooper and Buddy Munroe in the second for an early 3-0 lead. FSU scored in the third, but the Gators answered with two more to take that 5-1 advantage.
O'Sullivan had to be feeling good with a 5-1 lead and his top pitcher, Patrick Keating (8-1, 3.47) on the mound, but Keating couldn't get it done. FSU scored in the fourth and then erupted for seven runs in the fifth. In that inning Keating allowed the first six Seminoles to reach base and all eventually scored. Kyle Mullaney retired only one of the four batters he faced in relief and was quickly replaced by Tony Davis.
Trailing 9-5 the Gators pulled even in their half of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jon Townsend and a three-run homer by Clayton Pisani. They didn't stay tied for long after the ‘Noles used a single, bunt and single to make it 10-9. Five more runs – capped by Tony Delmonico's three-run homer -- in the seventh to make it a six-run deficit and the Gators never got closer than four the rest of the way.
Keating (8-2) saw his ERA jump to 4.16 for the season as he was charged with eight runs in four innings. The Florida bullpen wasn't much better, surrendering nine runs in five innings of work. FSU ripped the Florida pitching staff for 25 hits and all 17 runs were earned. The runs and hits were the most the Gators have allowed in any game this season.
Meanwhile the hero for FSU has to be reliever Eli Villanueva who pitched six strong innings. He did allow Florida to score six runs, but he got key outs and allowed the rest of the FSU bullpen to sit the game out. Villanueva ended up retiring the final nine batters he faced and struck out ten Gators in the process.
Coming up we'll review this Gator season, look ahead to 2009 and compare this year to the first seasons under other recent Florida coaches.
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel
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