Comeback falls short as No. 5 Florida falls to Jacksonville, 10-9

Special to Gatorsports.com

Jacksonville University scored eight runs in the final three innings Friday and held off a No. 5 Florida rally in the ninth to escape with a 10-9 win at Florida Ballpark/McKethan Field.

The Dolphins (4-8) won their fourth game in a row after an 0-8 start. They beat the Gators (11-4) for the first time since April 7, 2018, snapping a six-game losing streak in the 95th meeting between the teams.

"The story of the game is we made four errors which is uncharacteristic of what we normally have," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We've been playing really sound defense and we messed up a couple bunt plays in that one inning."

The Dolphins collected 10 runs on 12 hits to earn the series opener. Facing a 10-5 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth, the Gators clawed back and had the go-ahead run at the plate but saw the four-run ninth inning rally come to an end.

The teams raced through three innings until the Gators broke the silence in the fourth. Sterlin Thompson tripled to left to drive in a run and scored on Kris Armstrong's sac fly.

Jacksonville then bounced back in the next half inning to even the score, but the Gators used an Armstrong home run to take a 4-2 lead in the sixth.

The Dolphins then retook the lead with three runs in the seventh and added another in the eighth before third baseman Kirby McMullen ripped his second home run on the season, clearing the bullpen in left field to cut the Jacksonville lead to 6-5.

Jacksonville added four more in the ninth to extend the lead to 10-5 before second-year freshman Josh Rivera belted his first home run of the season to pull the Gators within three on the two-run shot. Florida continued to battle back and pull within one when third-year sophomore Jud Fabian cleared the berm in left with his team-leading sixth home run of the season.

Third-year junior Tommy Mace struck out seven and allowed two runs on three hits in five innings. Jordan Butler and Rivera both collected two hits on the evening.

The Gators look to even the series Saturday when the teams return to Florida Ballpark at 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+).