No. 1 Gators rally to stay unbeaten

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Florida's Jordan Butler. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent/File]
After getting a stern lecture from Kevin O’Sullivan on Friday night, the No. 1 Florida baseball team showed that they heard the message loud and clear.
The Gators just took awhile to let it sink in.
Florida fell behind 7-1, but rallied to keep its season unblemished, beating Troy 10-7 in front of a crowd of 4,140 at McKethan Stadium.
“It was early,” said sophomore Kendrick Calilao, who had a pair of hits for the Gators. “It wasn’t even half the ball game yet.”
The Gators started slowly with a base-running mistake in the first inning by senior Austin Langworthy and a poor outing by starter Jack Leftwich.
But Florida, now 10-0, kept chipping away at the Troy lead before getting a six-run seventh inning that was the difference.
“After the message of (Friday) night, we start out with one of our leaders making a mistake,” said O’Sullivan, who lectured his team about not showing up ready to play in a 3-2 win over the Trojans to start this series. “It could have spiraled on us.”
Florida rallied by scoring single runs in four consecutive innings before the big seventh. And the Gators bullpen did the job, shutting out the team that started this weekend leading the nation in hits after the fourth inning.
“We just kept pushing and let our bullpen come through,” said junior Jordan Butler, who had a big RBI single in the seventh. “Don’t give up. We’re going to come through at some point.”
One of the keys for Florida was the way the bullpen pitched, especially freshman Tyler Nesbitt, who threw a pair of scoreless innings.
“He was the story of the game,” O’Sullivan said. “He kind of slowed things down.”
The teams play again Sunday at the Mac at 1 p.m.
Florida fell behind in the second when Rigsby Mosley drilled a ball to left-center that received a little help from the strong wind and went out of the park. The really bad news was that Troy (8-3) had the bases loaded against Leftwich and took a 4-0 lead with Mosley’s second homer of the season.
The Trojans added a run in the third on William Sullivan’s single and two more in the fourth on hits by Drew Frederic and Easton Kirk.
So it was 7-1 and didn’t look good for the Gators, whose only run had come on a Jud Fabian solo homer that also got up into the wind.
But Florida kept eating away at the lead, scoring single runs each of the middle three innings to set up a wild bottom of the seventh.
“It was frustrating in a way because we felt like we were one hit away from putting up a big number,” O’Sullivan said. “But we kept grinding.”
Troy changed pitchers to start the seventh inning and it did not go well for the Trojans. Butler knocked in the first run with a single and Brady Smith made it 7-6 with another.
Troy closer Ryan Fultz got a pair of pop outs, but walked Kirby McMullen with the bases loaded to tie the game.
Cory Acton then hit a sharp grounder up the middle that second baseman Austin Garofalo got to on the backhand side. With the shortstop not getting to the bag in time, Garofalo chose to throw to first.
But his throw was a wild one and the Gators started circling the bases. By the time the play was over, UF led 10-7.
That error was one of five committed by the Trojans and one of eight for the series.
Fabian left the game in the fifth inning after a close play at second. O’Sullivan said his center fielder and leadoff batter had his right hand stepped on but could return to the lineup as soon as Sunday.
“We just didn’t want to take any chances,” he said.

Up next
Who: Troy (8-3) vs. No. 1 Florida (10-0)
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: McKethan Stadium
Radio: 103.7-FM