Sunday, March 6, 2016

UF Baseball: #1 Gators Walk Off To Win Dartmouth Series

The #1 Florida Gators captured a series victory over the Dartmouth Big Green with a memorable 4-3 walk off win in 12 innings.

The game's hero was no other than Buddy Reed. Leading off the bottom of the twelfth, Reed smoked the first pitch he saw over the right field fence and promptly ended the game. It was his first home run this season and also his second walk off of the year. It would also be Reed's only hit of the contest as he finished 1-3 with three walks.

Buddy Reed settling in early in the game. Little did he know the hero he would become just a few hours later. 

Of Florida's five hits, Buddy's home run was the only extra base hit of the day as JJ Schwarz, Deacon Liput, Nelson Maldonado, and Christian Hicks all singled. Schwarz finished as the leading RBI-getter as he drove in two runs while going 1-3 with two walks. Peter Alonso was the only other Gator to knock a guy in with his sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.

Despite the cold game from the offense throughout, the pitching held it down and kept the Gators in the game. A.J. Puk (0-1) started the contest and received his second no decision of the season as he threw five innings, allowed two earned runs on four hits, struck out four, and walked four.

Relieving for Puk in the sixth inning with runner's on first and second and no outs was Brady Singer. Masterfully working his way out of the jam, Singer would go on to toss three brilliant innings of no-hit baseball while striking out three.

In the ninth, Kirby Snead came on to close and was able to get two outs before surrendering a double and walking a man. The batter who doubled had also reached third by means of a passed ball before Snead issued the walk. Having seen enough, coach Kevin O'Sullivan pulled the lefty with an out to go and brought in Shaun Anderson to close out the game.

With the count 0-2 and runners on first and third, Anderson induced a ground ball to Dalton Guthrie that should have been the final out of the game. However, the shortstop made an errant throw to first base that pulled Peter Alonso off the bag and allowed Dartmouth to knot the score up at 3-3.

With runners on first and second now, Dartmouth's Kyle Holbrook singled into right field and the Big Green chose to send runner Dustin Shirley home for the go-ahead run. But right fielder Nick Horvath would have none of it as he fielded the ball and threw a strike to JJ at the plate to hose Shirley for the final out of the inning. From my view I will admit that Shirley looked safe, but hey I'll take the generous calls when we can get them.

Despite losing his save opportunity on a throwing error, Anderson was clutch and shut down Dartmouth's hitters in extra innings.

Three innings later, Reed sent us all home and gave Anderson his second win of the season. Shaun finished with a near flawless stat line of 3.1 innings pitched, one hit allowed, and four strikeouts.

Final Takeaway:
This is the second weekend series that the #1 Florida Gators have won. Tomorrow they will try to earn their second sweep of the season and notch their fifth consecutive win. Before previewing the series finale, however, here are my final tidbits from tonight's epic win:

  • Nelson Maldonado made a fine basket catch in the top of the fifth for the first out of the inning. If the game was televised it may have been a candidate for SportsCenter's Top 10.
  • Christians Hicks batted a perfect 1-1 while drawing two walks and scoring once before being subbed out for Jonathan India.
  • Dalton Guthrie was 0-6 tonight while Mike Rivera was 0-5.
  • Dartmouth snuffed out Jonathan India's bunt attempt with runners on first and second in the bottom of the eleventh as reliever Michael Danielak dove and caught the bunt the air before throwing it to second to double up Deacon Liput.
  • The Gator pitching staff combined for 11 strikeouts tonight.
  • Dartmouth outhit Florida 6-5.
  • Anderson's 3.1 innings of work were a career high. His four strikeouts tied a career-high.
  • This is the second time I have seen Buddy Reed end a game in person. The first time was when Reed delivered a game winning bloop single to beat Miami on February 20, 2015.

For Game 3 it will be Alex Faedo (2-0) toeing the rubber as #1 Florida (11-1) looks to sweep Dartmouth (0-5). It'll be a hot one as game time is 12 p.m. There is no television stream for the game, but it can be heard on Country 103.7 The Gator. Between a two hit-shutout on Friday and an extra innings affair tonight , I can only imagine what Game 3 has in store for us.

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