Texas A&M eliminates Florida from SEC tourney

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Texas A&M's Ty Coleman beats the tag from Florida catcher Brady Smith as he slides into home plate for the score during the third inning of the Southeastern Conference tournament game Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Special to Gatorsports.com

HOOVER, Ala. — Florida completed its baseball resume Tuesday for the NCAA Tournament committee to go over through Monday morning.

Have the Gators (33-24) done enough to receive an invitation to their 12th consecutive NCAA tourney? We’ll find out Monday. The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled for noon Monday on ESPNU.

“Given the difference in the circumstances, with some time off, I like our club,” said UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan, whose team has reached the College World Series seven times since 2010, winning the 2017 title. “That’s for the committee to decide, I’m not going to put my two cents in there. You’ve got some smart people making these decisions and at the end of the day I like our team. Simple as that.”

Jonathan Ducoff hit a two-out, run-scoring single in the 10th inning Tuesday to lift six seed Texas A&M to an 8-7 win over 11 seed Florida in the first game of the SEC tournament.

The Aggies (37-19-1) advance to the double-elimination portion of the bracket and face No. 3 seed Georgia (42-14) on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

Texas A&M earned the win by scoring six of its runs with two outs. After one out in the 10th, UF reliever Nolan Crisp (4-4) walked Cam Blake, who was sacrificed to second. Ducoff’s game-winner was a single to left to give him four runs batted in for the day.

“They were just a little bit better than us today, we made a couple mistakes,” O’Sullivan said. “Credit our hitters, they battled against some of the best pitching in our league today. Our young hitters had some really good at-bats. We battled from behind twice, down 3-0 early and battled back into it.

“Tommy (Mace) gave us a great start. A play here, a play there, a pitch here or a pitch there, obviously it’s a different outcome. Credit Texas A&M, they played just a little bit better than us today.”

Texas A&M got to Mace with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Three singles, an intentional walk, a sacrifice fly and a throwing error allowed the Aggies to take a 3-0 lead.

The Gators cut the deficit to 3-2 with two runs in the fifth after two outs. Kendrick Calilao walked to end a streak of 12 consecutive Gators retired by Texas A&M starter Asa Lacy, but was erased when Cory Acton reached on a field’s choice. Jacob Young then singled and Jud Fabian walked to load the bases. Brady McConnell delivered with a two-run single.

UF missed an opportunity to at least tie the game when Fabian was caught in a rundown between home and third base and thrown out trying to advance on Austin Langworthy’s infield single.

Florida tied it up at 3-all in the sixth. Brady Smith reached on a throwing error before Calilao, Acton and Young walked to force across a run. Lacy was replaced by Bryce Miller.

Mace was lifted after giving up a two-out double in the sixth. Reliever Christian Scott got the Gators out of the inning. Mace allowed four hits and two earned runs in 62/3 innings and struck out six and walked four on four days rest.

The Gators scored two in the eighth inning for a 5-3 lead. Smith reached on an error and scored when Wil Dalton tripled. Calilao’s sacrifice fly scored Dalton.

Texas A&M went longball to take the lead in its half of the eighth. Mickey Hoehner homered off Scott with two out to make it 5-4. After a single, Jordan Butler replaced Scott. After another single, Ducoff hit a two-out, three-run home run on the 10th pitch of his at-bat for the 7-5 Aggies lead.

Florida tied the game at 7-7 in the ninth off Aggies closer Kasey Kalich (2-1). Fabian doubled and scored when Langworthy’s deep fly to right field was misplayed into a triple. Nelson Maldonado singled in Langworthy to deadlock the game.

The Aggies threatened in the ninth, but Acton tagged out a runner attempting to advance to third base on a grounder to third.

“I’m proud of the way we battled,” O’Sullivan said. “Obviously a lot of people probably didn’t expect us to be in this position 10 days ago. But I’ve seen steady progress and improvement of our team, but today kind of shows you a little of what we’ve gone through the entire year. We battle, and battle, and battle and had a great start from our starter. We just weren’t able to finish it off.”


11 COMMENTS

  1. BUTLER, SULLY????!!!??? REALLY!!!! and to righthanders with a lead and the game on the line???
    After two years you haven’t had your fill??? One “ultimatum” and one save since doesn’t change the tiger’s stripes. He proved that last time out …..HE CAN’T KEEP THE BALL DOWN!!!! AND HAS LIMITED VELOCITY AT BEST!!!!
    …..could not believe you made that change and stayed with him after the lefty hitter!!!!
    I know the pen is weak and your options are few but still……..
    go recruit some lefties………….please!!!!!

      • Yea I question sully’s pitching choices this year but there is NO WAY to question his ethics! He is a great coach who usually wins wins wins. This year his seasoned starters pitched poorly and he didnt seem to know how to handle it. Case in point, this game. Mace has been NO Ace this year but he kept starting him even though his freshmen have been pitching much better. But saying that, I would never question his heart as you have! I think he just isnt used to being in this position and all year has hung with his veterans in a normalcy bias, like all of us do if we pick a stock,investment etc and just hold too long when things go south!

  2. First, this very young Florida team had the 3rd toughest schedule in the nation. Consider this prediction bold if you want, but they will (should) make it into the NCAA tournament. If their young guys on the mound have developed as well as I think, they should be expected to advance at least a couple of games. But really tw and alohakid, are you serious? O’Sullivan is arguably the best coach in college baseball! Eleven tourneys in a row, 7 CWS trips since 2010, NCAA tournament title in 2017. Yes, this was a tough loss in extra innings to a solid A&M team, but my gosh, get a grip! Does the word credibility mean anything?

  3. Well Austin, maybe you don’t read the comments regularly or you would know that I have nothing but Gator love for Sully who I have referred to in comments as one of the top five coaches in the country and how very lucky we are to have him.That does not make him immune from decision questions on occasion. And I have questioned his use of Butler in the past and still do. Butler seems like a great kid, excellent teammate and very promising hitter but he has succeeded in the clutch…pitching… very few times. Yesterday everything was on the line and we had the lead. When he did not get the lefty….who was hitting less than 230……and their better righties coming up, he should have been replaced. That is all I was saying and, after all. my post was immediately after the game… an emotional loss we could have ….should have after a great comeback …won. …………….And, by the way, they will make the tournament.