USF upsets Gators to open Gainesville Regional. Florida now faces elimination from NCAAs
South Florida hit two home runs off Florida ace Tommy Mace en route to a 5-3 win in the Gainesville Regional opener Friday.
After a two-hour, 18-minute weather delay, Kris Armstrong’s eighth-inning homer over the right field wall cut the deficit to two runs. The top-seeded Gators, however, couldn’t rally in the ninth despite a two-out double by Colby Halter and a wild pitch advancing him to third.
UF (38-21), the 15th overall seed in the NCAA tournament, will face South Alabama (33-21), a 1-0 loser to Miami on Friday night, at noon Saturday (SEC Network) in the losers bracket of the double-elimination regional. Miami (33-19) plays USF at 4 p.m. in the winners bracket.
"It's not just one thing," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said of the loss. "We had some defensive mistakes, we had some mental mistakes. We've been swinging the bat so good, but today we were around just about everything. And obviously pitching-wise, it wasn't good enough."
Saturday's game:Gainesville Regional Day 2: Florida's season ends with 19-1 loss to South Alabama
How to watch:Here's how to watch the Gainesville Regional on TV, live stream
Regional preview:Gators riding momentum from Hoover into NCAAs
USF’s Collin Sullivan hit a leadoff single in the second and scored on Nelson Rivera’s double down the left field line. Riley Hogan homered off Mace in the following frame, but the Gators responded in the bottom of the third with Nathan Hickey’s RBI double to right center.
That was one of four hits against USF starting pitcher Jack Jasiak, who struck out three in four frames with one earned run and a walk.
"At the beginning, we didn't start off with that edge we usually have," Armstrong said. "There's a few things that didn't go our way. Just kind of an unfortunate start to the game. Then the rain came.”
Two innings after Hogan’s home run, the fourth-seeded Bulls (29-27), winners of seven of their last eight games, left the yard again when Carmine Lane launched a solo shot to left field. Florida answered in the fifth with Mac Guscette’s leadoff double and Hickey’s run-scoring single.
Mace (6-2) surrendered a pair of homers for the third time this season. In what could be his final outing at Florida Ballpark, Mace allowed four hits, three runs and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings pitched.
"We've had a really hard time of maintaining momentum," O'Sullivan said. "It's our job to get these guys going. We're in postseason, so you gotta play your best baseball at this time of the year. Obviously we didn't do that."
Christian Scott took over for Mace after the weather delay and gave up a leadoff double to Collin Sullivan, who advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.
Scott was replaced in the seventh after Lane reached third on a fielding error and throwing error by center fielder Jud Fabian. Hogan then singled through the left side against UF reliever Trey Van Der Weide, bringing Lane home. Van Der Weide allowed one hit with one K in 2.2 innings of work.
Bulls relief pitcher Dylan Burns (5-5) took over in the seventh and retired his first eight batters before Armstrong’s homer. Burns bounced back with his third strikeout to end the inning, and USF closer Orion Kerkering finished the Gators in the ninth.
"We just gotta focus on the next game and come out hot," Armstrong said. "Obviously we gotta take it one day at a time and we gotta win four in a row here. But anything's possible being at home."
Inside the regional:A quick glance at NCAA Gainesville Regional
Double elimination at Florida Ballpark
Game 1: South Florida 5, Florida 3
Game 2: Miami 1, South Alabama 0
Game 3: 12 p.m. - Florida (38-21) vs. South Alabama (33-21), SEC Network
Game 4: 4 p.m. - South Florida (29-27) vs. Miami (33-19)
Game 5: 12 p.m. - Loser Game Four vs. Winner Game Three
Game 6: 6 p.m. - Winner Game Four vs. Winner Game Five
Game 7 (if necessary): 1 p.m. - Winner Game Six vs. Loser Game Six