Byrne (1-0) was great in his seven innings of work. Throwing 86 pitches, he allowed no earned runs on seven hits and struck out eight. After Byrne's departure, junior lefty Nick Horvath entered and worked a fine eighth inning. He gave up a leadoff single and then immediately erased it with a double play ground ball. He then struck out the next batter for a scoreless inning of relief.
Once the ninth inning rolled around, everything changed. Senior righty Frank Rubio came on to close it out and gave up two consecutive hits to start the frame. After striking out the next batter, Rubio was pulled in favor of true freshman lefty Andrew Baker.
Appearing in his first high-pressure situation, Baker threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to second and third. With no outs still and the count on five-hole hitter Sam Armstrong at 3-1, Baker served up a game-tying double to left field. The two runs were charged to Rubio.
With the game slipping through their fingertips, Florida intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases. In addition, Nick Horvath went into center field as a defensive replacement for sophomore Blake Reese. Now with the bases loaded and just one out, Jacksonville's eight-hole hitter Scott Dubrule strode to the plate.
Without hesitation, Dubrule swung at the first pitch and smoked the ball past third baseman Jonathan India for a walk off single. It was jubilation for the Dolphins and utter shock for the Gators. For Baker, it would be the first loss of his young collegiate career.
The Gators banged out just eight hits and scored only one run in both the second and third innings. Just two Gators had multiple hits, and they were junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie and senior outfielder Ryan Larson.
With a 2-4 effort, Guthrie scored the game's second run in the third inning and also stole his second bag of the year. Larson went 2-3 with a pair of singles. Florida's only extra base-hit came from Nick Horvath when he doubled with one out in the top of the fifth inning. He finished the contest 1-3.
The only RBI's for the Gators came on groundouts. In the second inning, junior catcher Mike Kolozsvary plated Mike Rivera on a fielder's choice to second base. In the third inning, Jonathan India grounded out to second base to score Dalton Guthrie. Though they drove in the only Gator runs of the day, both these aforementioned hitters combined for an 0-7 performance.
This was a tough loss for many Gator baseball fans to stomach, but there is no need to overreact to a Tuesday loss in February. Before giving my final thoughts and previewing the Miami series, here are my final tidbits from the Jacksonville game:
- This is the first time Florida has lost to Jacksonville since 2014 at the Mac. They also gave up three runs in that loss.
- Florida's 13-game regular season winning steak against Floridian opponents is now over.
- Florida had not lost a Tuesday regular season game since the April 14th walk off loss the Florida State Seminoles in the 2015 season.
- The last time Florida lost to Jacksonville on the road was on March 26th, 2008.
The No. 2 Florida Gators need to move past this loss quick as the rival No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (2-1) are coming to town this weekend. As I have stated before, the Gators have not lost a series to the 'Canes since my freshman year in 2014.
The probable starters for this weekend will probably be Florida's Alex Faedo (0-0) vs Miami's Jesse Lepore (1-0) on Friday night, Brady Singer (1-0) vs Jeb Bargfeldt (1-0) on Saturday night, and Jackson Kowar (1-0) vs Michael Mediavilla (0-1) on Sunday afternoon.
The first pitch for the two night games are schedule for 6:30 p.m. with the afternoon game set for 1 p.m. All of the games can be seen on the SEC Network and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.
As for Jacksonville, they will carry the momentum of this huge upset victory into their weekend series with the Georgia State Panthers (3-0). First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com
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