By Walter Villa, Correspondent
CORAL GABLES — Cue Meatloaf.
People of a certain age will remember that the aforementioned burly singer once belted out his classic, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and that message is what the top-ranked Florida Gators baseball team takes away from this weekend.
On Sunday, the host Miami Hurricanes blanked the Gators 2-0, but Florida still won two out of three games in the series.
The Gators (7-1) had won 10 consecutive games dating to last year’s national championship run. And, even after Sunday’s loss, they have won 10 out of their past 12 games against Miami (3-4).
Even so, the Gators wanted more.
“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” Gators shortstop Jonathan India said when asked about taking the series. “We’re still disappointed, but, hey, we’ll take it. We wanted the sweep.”
The sweep didn’t come mainly because Gators’ batters struck out 13 times and managed just three hits. The only extra-base hit was India’s double, which should’ve been an out. India popped up, but the ball fell near the pitcher’s mound.
Austin Langworthy and Keenan Bell had Florida’s other hits Sunday, and the Gators drew five walks.
Gators starter Tyler Dyson (1-1) deserved a better fate after allowing just four hits, no walks and one run in six innings. He struck out eight, but got beat in the fifth when he allowed consecutive, two-out doubles to left by nine-hole hitter Willy Escala and leadoff man Michael Burns.
“They found a hole,” Dyson said. “They didn’t necessarily hit it hard, but they were placed perfectly. … I could’ve missed a couple of inches lower.”
The ‘Canes extended their lead to 2-0 in the seventh, getting to reliever Andrew Baker, a sophomore left-hander. Just like in the fifth, Miami started its rally with two outs and none on, as Miami’s Freddy Zamora singled to center and advanced on a walk.
Florida brought in another reliever, freshman Hunter McMullen, who got ahead on Burns 0-2. But Burns, who chokes up slightly, battled back to a 3-2 count before hitting an opposite-field, end-of-his bat ground-ball single past first baseman Bell, who dove to his right.
Miami starter Evan McKendry (1-1) got the win by allowing just two hits and two walks, striking out eight in six innings.
Andrew Cabezas earned his second save of the season by pitching three innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five. But Cabezas walked the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh, escaping when Langworthy flew out to medium center on a 1-0 pitch.
Cabezas needed 30 pitches to finish the seventh and threw 64 pitches in his three innings. But he finished strong.
After Bell’s leadoff single in the ninth, Cabezas struck out the side, getting Blake Reese (swinging), Nick Horvath (swinging) and Brady McConnell (looking).
“You always as a coach go positive,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “You feel like you will get back in the game. But credit McKendry, and (Cabezas) made pitches when he needed.”
Who: No. 1 Florida (7-1) at North Florida (3-4)
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Harmon Stadium at Dusty Rhodes Field, Jacksonville
Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM