Florida baseball eliminated by Valparaiso

Valparaiso's first baseman John Loeffler gloves the throw to first ahead of Florida baserunner Harrison Badder during the second inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Saturday in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Published: Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 12:48 a.m.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — New day, same painful result for the Gators. The Florida baseball had a 4-1 lead through six innings before it all fell apart one day after blowing a two-run lead. Valparaiso scored four runs on just two hits in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of wild pitching and a key error to complete a four-run inning and eliminate the Gators from the NCAA Tournament with a 5-4 win.

Offensively, Florida left 11 men on base and finished 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position. The game was a microcosm of a subpar season from a team considered a perennial SEC powerhouse. “To be honest with you, this season is not the standard we want in Florida and there's no rebuilding at Florida,” Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “We've got young players but it's time to grow up.” The Gators got runners to second and third with one out in the top of the ninth, but Vickash Ramjit struck out and Harrison Bader grounded out to third to end the season. For the first time since 2008, Florida (29-30) failed to make it past its regional and finished with a losing record for the first time since 2007. The nightmare seventh started with a single to center by Billy Cribbs, a five-pitch walk to Bryce Hara and a bloop-single to left-center by Andrew Bain that load the bases, spelling the end for Florida starter Johnny Magliozzi. With lefty Daniel Gibson on the mound, Spencer Mahoney hit a chopper to third that Josh Tobias bobbled before slipping, allowing Cribbs to score and keeping the bases loaded on the error. “I just tried to keep it in front of me and just got off my chest and got behind me,” Tobias said. “I should have stayed down better.” Gibson (2-1) then walked in the next two runs, tying the game at 4, and was yanked after failing to record an out. Chris Manning followed with an RBI fielder's choice off right-hander Ryan Harris that pushed across the go-ahead run. Normally the team's closer, Magliozzi made just his fourth start of the season. He worked out of jams in the first three innings, stranding five Crusaders on base while allowing just one run on a wind-blown homer to left by Mahoney in the first. He then found his groove, limiting Valpo to one hit over the next three innings before losing his command in the seventh. “Struggled to throw strikes,” said Magliozzi, who allowed three earned runs in six-plus innings. “First three innings, I was pretty uncomfortable and I got in a rhythm and tried my best but (it) didn't work out that good.” The Gators scored three runs in the fourth but probably should have had more. Josh Tobias doubled home Harrison Bader, who led off the inning with a single. Two batters later, Cody Dent doubled down the right-field line, scoring Tobias and Zack Powers to give Florida a 2-1 lead. With Dent on second and a 3-1 count, leadoff hitter Richie Martin curiously decided to bunt and popped out to the catcher. O'Sullivan said the plan was for Martin to drag bunt on the first pitch, but if he reached a hitter's count, he should swing away. Casey Turgeon singled just over a leaping John Loeffler at first to put runners on the corners with one out, but Justin Shafer hit into an easy 6-3 double play to end the threat. “I think we pitched fairly good all year long,” O'Sullivan said. “We have to be better offensively and be able to handle the bat from top to bottom … we have not put good swings on offensive counts and did (not do) enough damage there. “So there's a bunch of things that we need to improve. But I don't want to sound negative … There were a lot of positives this year, as well. There were. It's just hard when you have expectations for your team, and the season comes to an abrupt end like it has.”

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