Monday, June 11, 2018

UF Baseball: Auburn Walks Off Against No. 1 Florida in Game 2 of Super Regionals

The No. 1 Florida Gators (46-19) will be playing a winner-take-all game in super regionals as the Auburn Tigers (43-22) defeated them in a 3-2 walk-off victory.

In his last start at the Mac, junior right-hander Jackson Kowar (9-5, 3.24 ERA) did all he could to give the Gators an opportunity to win. He tossed seven innings while allowing just one earned run on three hits, striking out six, and hitting just one batter.

At 94 pitches with the game tied at 1-1, Kowar was finished after the seventh inning. Out of the bullpen for the eighth inning came freshman left-hander Jordan Butler. He struck out a batter before giving up a single and a double that gave Auburn a 2-1 lead. He would get the next batter to pop up and then record a strikeout to limit the deficit to one, but the damage had already been done.

After the Gators rallied back in the ninth to tie the game, Butler again was back out there for the bottom of the frame. He would issue a leadoff walk and Gator skipper Kevin O'Sullivan wasted no time in pulling him for reliable closer Michael Byrne.

The junior right-hander struck out the first batter he faced for the first out, but this would be Florida's only out of the inning as Auburn strung together back-to-back singles to walk it off and force a Game 3. The loss and run would be pinned on Jordan Butler to give him just his second defeat of the season.

After teeing off in Game 1, the Gator offense cooled down tremendously today. They scored just one run in the fourth and ninth innings as a team banged out only seven hits.

Only one Gator had multiple hits in the contest and he was sophomore left fielder Austin Langworthy. Batting out of the five-hole, Langworthy went 2-4 with a double and the game-tying solo home run in the ninth inning.

Among the remaining Gators with base hits were junior shortstop Deacon Liput (1-4 with a stolen base), junior third baseman Jonathan India (1-3 with a walk), sophomore right fielder Wil Dalton (1-4), sophomore first baseman Keenan Bell (1-3), and senior center fielder Nick Horvath (1-4 with a double and an RBI).

Florida had an errorless game while Auburn committed one error. The Tigers' lone miscue came on a wild throw from redshirt junior catcher Brett Wright as he tried to gun down Deacon Liput stealing second base in the eighth inning. Despite Liput advancing to third, this mistake would not hurt Auburn as he would not come in to score.

Final Takeaway
The No. 1 Florida Gators (46-19) have been in this situation time-and-time again so Gator fans really should not fret. Florida dropped their second game to Auburn in the regular season as well before crushing the Tigers 12-3 in the rubber match.

Before previewing the final game of this super regional, here are my final tidbits from Florida's Game 2 loss:

  • This is the third consecutive season that Florida will be playing in a Game 3 of their super regional. Florida is 2-0 in these previous do-or-die matchups.
  • Austin Langworthy's multi-hit game was his 14th of the season.
  • Keenan Bell's double was his 11th of the year while Langworthy's two-bagger was his 10th of the 2018 campaign.
  • Langworthy's long ball was just his third of the year.
  • Deacon Liput's stolen base was his eighth of the season.
  • Auburn's walk off hero was redshirt senior second baseman Luke Jarvis. It was his only hit of the game.
  • Tiger freshman Tanner Burns (7-4, 3.01 ERA) turned in a good outing as he went six innings, allowed one earned run on five hits, struck out three, and walked four batters on 94 pitches thrown.
  • Apart from Jarvis's game-winning hit, Auburn's other run production came from freshman right fielder Steven Williams (1-4 with a solo home run in the fourth inning) and sophomore shortstop Will Holland (1-4 with an RBI double in the eighth inning). 

In their second elimination game of this postseason, the Gators will again probably go with freshman right-hander Jack Leftwich (4-5, 4.50 ERA) for the start. Auburn may counter with either redshirt senior Andrew Mitchell (2-2, 4.30 ERA) or sophomore right-hander Davis Daniel (3-4, 5.28 ERA). My best bet is that Mitchell gets the nod.

First pitch is set for 8 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on ESPN. Winner goes to Omaha! Let's see which team will rise to the occasion!



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