By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent
The midweek winning streak for the Florida baseball team is over.
After dropping another SEC road series against LSU, UF suffered a 13-11 loss at home Tuesday to Florida Atlantic. The Gators (26-17) had won seven midweek games in a row, with their last loss coming March 6 against Florida Gulf Coast University.
“The little things are kind of getting us,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Eleven walks and a hit batter is disappointing. We can’t let this linger into the weekend. We gotta somehow flush it and move on, as tough as it is.”
FAU jumped out to an early 1-0 edge Tuesday when leadoff hitter Eric Rivera scored on a single by Francisco Urbaez. The Gators responded in the second with a five-run inning.
Jacob Young evened the score with a hit to plate Brady Smith. Christian Flint singled to shortstop on the following play, prompting Owls coach John McCormack to pull starter Dylan Carter after just 30 pitches for lefty Dylan O’Connell.
The first batter O’Connell faced was Austin Langworthy, who got down on an 0-2 count before blasting his first career grand slam. Langworthy’s right-field bomb made it 5-1, bringing home Flint, Young and Kendrick Calilao.
FAU cut that four-run deficit to one in the fourth inning, loading the bases with no outs. O’Sullivan sat starter Nolan Crisp following back-to-back walks and turned to David Luethje, who couldn’t pull UF out of the jam.
The Owls cleared the bases without getting a hit off Luethje, scoring Andru Summerall on a balk, Pedro Pages on a wild pitch and Bobby Morgensen on a passed ball.
Crisp gave up four hits with one strikeout and three walks in 50 total pitches.
“It’s obvious we walked too many guys,” O’Sullivan said. “The offense was doing their job. They swung the bat really well, 21 hits. It’s just unfortunate that we haven’t figured out yet to throw the ball across the plate, but we’re at where we’re at right now.”
The Gators went yard again in the bottom of the fourth with an oppo shot from Wil Dalton, who hit his own face on the scoreboard. His two-run homer plated Langworthy and extended Florida’s lead to 7-4.
It didn’t last long.
Luethje was pulled for Christian Scott in the fifth following a hit by pitch. The Owls (28-12) loaded the bases on a passed ball and a walk before a grand slam of their own, going up 8-7 on Morgensen’s homer to right field.
UF tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Langworthy’s triple to right field, scoring Flint.
After a hit by pitch advanced Dalton, Langworthy was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. Nelson Maldonado flied out on the next at-bat, ending the fifth with two runners on.
Justin Alintoff replaced Scott after the sixth and allowed no runs in his one inning of action, as Rivera struck out swinging. The Gators regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh with three straight hits.
Following left-center singles by Young and Flint, Langworthy singled to the right side for his career-high sixth RBI. Flint made it home on Dalton’s ground out, putting UF ahead 10-8.
O’Sullivan went with freshman pitcher Ben Specht in the eighth and he walked his first two batters, allowing the Owls to score on Morgensen’s ground out. Calilao answered in the bottom of the inning with a left-field single, plating Cory Acton to give the Gators a 11-9 cushion. That would be their final lead of the game.
Langworthy took over for Specht in the ninth and gave up two hits, as Rivera flied out to score Gunnar Lambert and Joe Montes tripled to bring home the tying run. Pages won the game for the Owls with left-field single on Florida pitcher Nick Pogue, scoring Urbaez and Montes.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Langworthy, who finished 3-for-4. “I’d rather go 0-for-4 and us win the game instead of having a scoreless ninth inning. We’ll move on to the next one and hopefully get better.”
The Gators will be back in action Friday for a three-game series against Kentucky. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.
Who: Kentucky vs. Florida
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Where: McKethan Stadium
Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM
Online: SEC Network+
Weekend: 6 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network) and 12 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2)