Shutout Loss Denies Gators Sweep

There are tons of cliches in baseball, but there's one phrase that, while it may not qualify as a cliche, is as true as true can be. If you do not score, you can not win. Florida was reminded of that for the first time in the 2010 season Sunday afternoon when Vanderbilt blanked the Gators 7-0 to salvage the final game of a three-game set at McKethan Stadium.

Despite the loss, Florida took the key SEC Eastern Division series from the Commodores thanks to wins on Friday (3-2) and Saturday (7-3).

Florida got a solid start from freshman Hudson Randall who pitched into the sixth inning and allowed just two earned runs. However the rookie from Atlanta would have had to be almost perfect just to keep Florida in the game against Vandy righty Jack Armstrong who pitched six scoreless innings.

The Gators had their chances with five hits, three walks, a hit batter and an error, but couldn't get a clutch hit on a beautiful Easter Sunday afternoon in the university city. It didn't help that all five of Florida's hits were singles.

Vandy scored first in the fourth inning thanks to the Commodores' best hitter, Jason Esposito reaching base when he swung and missed at a wild pitch for strike three. Two outs later, when the inning should have been over, Anthony Gomez singled him home for the only run Vandy would need.

Esposito made it 2-0 with a homer leading off the sixth inning and Vandy added an unearned run later in the inning. Esposito added another homer in the seventh inning and the Commodores tacked on three more in the ninth to put the game out of reach.

Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan talked about the game on his post-game radio show on the IMG Gator Radio Network.

*************************************************************

On the game itself:

"Vandy came out with a lot of energy and I thought we did too. We were really into the game and I thought Hudson Randall gave us a really quality start. Anytime you only give up two earned runs and pitch into the sixth you have to feel pretty good. We just weren't quite able to squeeze out any runs early. We had runners first and second and nobody out (in the second inning) and tried to drag a bunt and popped it up to the third baseman. That was probably a momentum changer for us offensively. If you don't execute bunts and you don't make plays when you need to it's going to be a long day."

On Vandy pitcher Jack Armstrong:

"We certainly got into a lot of advantage counts where I thought we would have some chances to put some good swings on the ball. But when we'd get a leadoff man on we just couldn't string together quality at bats. To his credit he made some pitches. Overall you just have to give credit to Vandy. They did exactly what they needed to do."

On winning the series:

"They're a very good team and came in here on an eight-game winning streak. We got three quality starts from all of our pitchers, two of them being freshmen. We played relatively good defense (the first two nights), and you have to be pleased with any series win. Certainly we would have loved to finish it off with a sweep, but if you win every series you play you're going to be in pretty good shape at the end of the year."

*************************************************************

Florida entered the week ranked No. 8 in Baseball America and it will be interesting to see where the Gators are next week after losing to No. 4 Florida State and taking two of three from No. 20 Vanderbilt. The Gators are now 20-7 on the season and 6-3 in the SEC, while Vandy goes to 24-6 (5-4).

*************************************************************

The Gators host Jacksonville Tuesday night at 6:30 and will then play eight straight games on the road starting with Tennessee next weekend. The JU game will mark the exact mid point of Florida's 56-game regular season scheduled, although they are down two games due to rainouts (and three snow outs when LaSalle had to cancel) and may not be able to make up either one of them.

*************************************************************

The shutout was the first the Gators have suffered at home since getting blanked by Kent State early in the 2007 campaign. That ends a streak of 114 home games scoring at least one run. The Gators fall to 17-2 at McKethan Stadium on the year. Under Kevin O'Sullivan the Gators entered the season with a 57-16 mark in front of Gator fans.


Fightin Gators Top Stories