Midweek woes continue for Gators in loss to Rattlers
Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 10:07 p.m.
Midweek games in Gainesville have not been kind to No. 6 Florida in the month of April.
A night after snapping a six-game winning streak, falling 3-1 to Jacksonville at McKethan Stadium, the Gators struggled with another sub-.500 in-state opponent. Florida A&M (18-21) used a pair of two-run home runs for a 4-3 win, the Rattlers' first win in 19 games all-time against the Gators (27-15).
Florida tallied only six hits against FAMU, and only 10 total hits in the two losses.
“We just couldn't generate any offense tonight, simple as that,” Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “We made a couple of mistakes in the strike zone, a couple of two-run homers and you know ... it's baseball. There's no guarantee you're going to win. When you come out to the yard, you've got to make it happen.”
Florida reliever Ryan Harris surrendered a seventh-inning homer for the second straight night, which again proved to be the difference. Harris gave up a three-run home run in the same inning Tuesday that provided all three of Jacksonville's runs.
Despite the Gators' struggles, sophomore Harrison Bader did his part, going 3 for 4, with two RBIs and a run scored on a solo home run.
“The most important thing is there's nothing guaranteed in baseball," Bader said. “Every day, whether it's Florida State ... or a smaller school, you have to play at your best and we didn't play our best tonight.”
Florida took an early 1-0 lead with a first-inning run when Richie Martin walked and stole a base, advancing to third on a Bader single before scoring on a throwing error on FAMU pitcher Alex Carrasco during a steal play.
Bennie Robinson got things moving for the Rattlers in the fourth inning, drawing a walk on four straight Justin Shafer pitches. Robinson then stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. As it turned out though, he would have been in scoring position at first base as his teammate Ryan Kennedy connected on a two-run shot to left for a 2-1 Rattlers lead.
Bader evened the game at 2-2 in the sixth inning, driving in Casey Turgeon with a single, but the Rattlers again used a two-run homer to surge ahead 4-2 when Jeremy Barlow connected off Harris in the seventh.
Bader pulled the Gators closer with a towering solo home run to left with no outs in the eighth inning to make it 4-3, but Florida would not score again.
Florida is now 0-3 in Tuesday-Wednesday home games this month, falling to Florida Atlantic 5-4 in 11 innings on April 1. Ironically, the Gators are 2-0 on the road in midweek games this month, defeating Florida State on April 8 and knocking off Florida Gulf Coast on April 15.
“You know you bring up all kinds of different reasons why it's important to play on a Tuesday or Wednesday, but ultimately the players on the team and the leaders on the team, they have to go play,” O'Sullivan said.
Florida plays host to a three-game weekend series with Missouri beginning Friday night at 7.