Special to Gatorsports.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Florida’s SEC baseball struggles continued on the road Thursday, when No. 8 Vanderbilt blanked the No. 14 Gators 5-0.
It marks the first time this season the Gators (16-8, 1-3 SEC) have been shut out.
Vanderbilt (17-5, 2-2) scored one in the first on a RBI double from JJ Bleday before UF starter Tommy Mace (4-2) settled in over the next few innings.
In the fourth, the Commodores strung together a couple hits to add another run to extend the lead to 2-0.
Mace kept Vanderbilt at bay and racked up a career high nine strikeouts before a pair of infield singles in the seventh inning.
The Gators went to the bullpen and things fell apart, as the next four batters reached – two courtesy of walks and two via hit batters – that brought three runs in to put Florida in a 5-0 hole.
“That was a good game, it just got away from us there in the seventh,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “With two outs and nobody on they had the infield hit and a bunt and then they scored three runs and the ball never left the infield.
“We went to the bullpen, threw 11 pitches and I think nine balls. Walked a couple guys, wild pitch, hit by a pitch. It just kind of got away from us at that point.
Vanderbilt starter Drake Fellows (5-0) pitched a complete game with five hits allowed and eight strikeouts.
“The thing about it that’s disappointing, not so much the loss, but they had their closer warming up in the bullpen and were probably going to go to him in the eighth but as soon as they tacked on three runs they were able to run Fellows back out there and get the complete game and their closer is available for tomorrow,” O’Sullivan said.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get going tomorrow, obviously we’ve got to do a little better job offensively. We put a couple drags on tonight with the third baseman back and bunted back to the pitcher, put another drag on and tried to pull back on a called strike. The drag was there for us tonight if we could have just strung together a couple good at bats when the game was within a couple runs, who knows what could have happened.”
Who: No. 14 Florida (16-8, 1-3 SEC) vs. No. 8 Vanderbilt (17-5, 2-2)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hawkins Field, Nashville, Tenn.
Online: SEC Network+