Florida baseball drops opener to Auburn
Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 10:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 10:06 p.m.
On a night when Florida needed to be at its best, it turned in one of its worst performances.
Who: Auburn (30-19, 10-15 SEC) at Florida (27-24, 12-13)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: McKethan Stadium
Gainesville-area radio: 103.7 FM
Florida’s pitchers walked six batters and allowed 10 hits, and the Gators committed base-running gaffes and only scored in one inning.
As a result, Florida was handled by Auburn 7-4 Friday night at McKethan Stadium.
Auburn scored three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, and Florida, which honored its two seniors before the game, couldn’t get anything going against Auburn’s soft-throwing lefty Connor Kendrick (4-3) until the seventh.
The Gators scored four runs in the inning, three of them unearned, but that was it for the game.
Florida drops to 27-24 overall and 12-13 in the SEC. Auburn is 30-19 and 10-15 in SEC games. Florida has five regular-season games left to impress the NCAA selection committee, plus the SEC Tournament.
The Gators have now lost five straight SEC games.
“They definitely hit harder (this time of year),” said Florida catcher Taylor Gushue, “because our goal is to get into the postseason.”
Florida did itself no favors with its base-running in the first three innings. Zack Powers reached on a strikeout that was a wild pitch in the second but was picked off first.
In the third, Josh Tobias led off with a double but was thrown out when he was caught off second on a grounder to short by Harrison Bader.
Bader went to second one batter later but was thrown out easily at the plate when he tried to score on Richie Martin’s single to left.
“Base-running mistakes kill momentum,” Gushue said. “The morale of the team goes down. They can’t happen.”
Florida starter Jonathon Crawford got out of a sticky situation in the second and appeared to be in good shape in the fourth when he got a double-play grounder from Patrick Savage. But after a single and a walk, Crawford left a pitch up to Auburn’s Ryan Tella, who hit a towering three-run homer to right.
It was only Tella’s second homer of the year and gave Auburn a 3-0 lead.
It was in keeping with the season for Crawford, considered the ace of UF’s staff and its only guaranteed weekend starter. At times, he has looked unhittable, but there always seems to be one inning when he struggles to locate his pitches. The loss dropped the junior’s record this season to 3-6, and his ERA is now 4.28.
“He was sharp early, he started strong,” said Gushue, the Florida catcher. “But then he got un-aggressive and started feeling for it. He didn’t have his best stuff.”
Crawford walked the leadoff batter in the fifth and was replaced by Parker Danciu, who retired one batter before Aaron Rhodes came in to pitch. Rhodes walked a batter, got a groundout and then allowed an opposite-field double to Dan Glevenyak to make it 5-0.
Jordan Ebert’s RBI single gave Auburn its sixth run.
A two-base error on a grounder to short gave Florida life in the seventh. Bader’s RBI single scored Florida’s first run and Martin’s bases-loaded walk scored another. A sacrifice fly by Casey Turgeon and an infield single by Gushue plated two more.
But Terrance Dedrick came in to strike out Justin Shafer to end the inning. He finished the game by throwing two more hitless innings.
“It was a tough game,” said senior Vickash Ramjit. “We battled back, but it just wasn’t our day. The walks hurt, but we still have to score runs.”
Ebert hit a solo homer in the ninth, his third of the season, to provide the final margin.
The teams play again tonight at 7.
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