Gainesville Regional Day 2: Florida's season ends with 19-1 loss to South Alabama

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Things started to turn for the worse in the first inning Saturday for Florida in the NCAA Gainesville Regional elimination game against South Alabama at Florida Ballpark. Baserunner Jacob Young was thrown out at home plate trying to score on a shallow flyball to left field.

South Alabama used a 10-run inning and a dominant performance Saturday from pitcher Miles Smith to eliminate top-seeded Florida from the Gainesville Regional. 

With the 19-1 beatdown by the three seed Jaguars, UF suffered its worst loss in NCAA Baseball Tournament history and went 0-2 in the postseason for just the sixth time in school history (first since 2014). It also marked the program’s worst loss at home since Clemson's 24-2 win in Gainesville in 1974. 

"It's pretty simple, we got beat," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "There's not much to say, it was just one of those days. Unfortunately, it was the last game of the year for us. It's something we gotta live with."

To make matters worse for the Gators, they had to go sit in their locker room — down 18 runs in the seventh — and come back out to finish the game following a one-hour, 50-minute weather delay at Florida Ballpark. 

UF (38-22), the No. 15 overall national seed, fell apart on the mound with starter Hunter Barco (10-3) and Franco Aleman, a usual starter who was called in relief. Barco was pulled in the first after surrendering two runs, while Aleman gave up nine in two innings as South Alabama’s offense exploded in the sixth with 10 runs on 10 hits in a row. 

The Jags (34-21) totaled 21 hits for the game, including 12 two-out runs batted in. Florida had just five hits in six frames against Smith (7-1), who struck out five and allowed just one run with no walks. 

Gainesville regional:How to watch Miami Hurricanes baseball vs. USF Bulls in NCAA regional on TV, live stream

Florida’s Jacob Young opened the game with a single and advanced to third, but was tagged out at home trying to score on a shallow fly ball to left. 

South Alabama’s Hunter Stokes and Kaleb DeLaTorre hit back-to-back singles in their first at-bats against Barco. UF had a chance to throw both runners out, but they were called safe at home plate (the second was overturned by review). 

Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan gets into a discussion with the umpires about a timeout call by the base umpire during Saturday's game against South Alabama at Florida Ballpark.

UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan pulls Hunter Barco in the first inning

Barco then threw a wild pitch and was taken out after 18 pitches, a rare move by O’Sullivan. With one out and runners on second and third, Jack Leftwich took over on the mound and got the Gators out of the jam. 

"I don't know," O'Sullivan said when asked what was wrong with Barco. "It was just one of those days where maybe he just didn't ... I don't know. I can't answer it."

UF pulled within one run in the third after leadoff singles from Josh Rivera and Colby Halter. Rivera scored on Mac Guscette's sacrifice fly. Those were two of just six hits for Florida, which ended the season with three consecutive losses.

Leftwich pitched for 2.2 innings, striking out four batters and allowing no runs with three hits. The 2.2 frames from Aleman, however, derailed the Gators. 

Aleman retired his first three batters in the fourth, but gave up a pair of runs the following inning. Facing two outs, South Alabama’s Cameron Tissue doubled to right center to bring home DeLaTorre and Michael Sandle. 

Aleman had a nightmarish frame in the sixth after collecting two outs, surrendering six consecutive singles and six runs before getting replaced by Brandon Sproat. Aleman allowed seven total hits and walked two batters, striking out three. Sproat couldn’t stop the hitting streak, giving up a double and three more RBI singles (four runs, three earned) as the bottom of the sixth lasted 40 minutes. 

"Really to summarize it, one of the strangest games I've ever been involved with," O'Sullivan said. "Getting off to the start that we did and having to use our closer in the first, giving up 10 consecutive hits.

"(Assistant volunteer coach) Lars Davis was doing the math during the rain delay ... it was like a 1 in 934,000 chance for 10 consecutive hits like that, considering their individual batting averages. Credit their hitters."

The Jags left the yard three times in the seventh, with two homers against Sproat (DeLaTorre, Andrew Bates back-to-back) and a three-run blast against reliever Ryan Cabarcas (Santi Montiel) as soon as he took the mound. UF turned to a third pitcher, David Luethje, to end the inning following the lightning delay.

"The sun will come up tomorrow. We've got to move forward," O'Sullivan said. "I know the players are probably disappointed right now, obviously, because this is the last chance they'll have for this group to be together. 

"But we've got a lot to be proud of. We hosted another regional. Even though there were some ups and downs during the season, we hung in there. I thought we played our best baseball the second half of the year. Just sad to end it this way."

Notes: The Jaguars handed the Gators their second largest margin of defeat in program history. Mississippi State beat UF, 20-2 on May 5, 2000 in Starkville, Mississippi. ... The USF Bulls were the only No. 4 regional seed to win Friday, knocking off Florida 5-3. Florida was the only team among the 16 national seeds to lose an opener in the double-elimination regionals.

Gainesville Regional

Double elimination at Florida Ballpark


South Florida 5, Florida 3

Miami 1, South Alabama 0


South Alabama 19, Florida 1, Florida eliminated

South Florida 10, Miami 2


South Alabama 7, Miami 2, Miami eliminated

Game 6: 6 p.m. - South Florida (30-27) vs. South Alabama (35-21)


Game 7 (if necessary): 1 p.m. - Winner Game Six vs. Loser Game Six