After coming off a pivotal and emotional series win over number three Vanderbilt, fourth ranked Florida (39-14) came out seemingly lifeless as they were embarrassed by in-state foe Jacksonville (33-18), 11-2. The Gators have struggled all year in mid-week games, falling to 7-7 on the season, and 4-6 on Tuesday nights. Give the Dolphins credit though. They scored eight two-out runs. Talk about "clutch" (although I'm not sure how clutch two-out runs are when you're up the whole game). Jacksonville has now managed to beat Florida's highly touted basketball and baseball teams in Gainesville during the same academic year. I'm sure this means no Gator fan wants to see Jacksonville's newly minted football team, led by former UF QB Kerwin Bell, coming into The Swamp anytime soon. Back to baseball...
...And on to the recap...It didn't start off well for Florida and starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis (2.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R). Panteliodis gave up three runs in the first inning, allowing a two-run double by Kevin Lehane and an RBI single by Jimmy Howick. Florida did show signs of life on offense in the bottom of the first, with freshly named SEC Player of the Week Nolan Fontana extending his hitting streak to seven games and 2011 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team member (and SEC POY candidate) Mike Zunino smashing his 13th home run of the season to cut the lead to 3-2.
But it was all Dolphins from there. Dan Gulbransen hit a solo homer in the third to put JU up 4-2. Florida pitcher Anthony DeSclafani was able to strand runners at first and third to end the Dolphins threat in the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Jacksonville added to their lead with a pair of two out hits. Johnathan Murphy cracked an RBI triple and Gulbransen added an RBI single to push the lead to 6-2.
Esterlin Perozo put the game out of reach in the fifth with a two out, three run home run to put JU up 9-2.
Florida had a chance in the bottom of the seventh when they had three singles in a row by Brian Johnson, Josh Adams, and Tyler Thompson, but failed to convert. Adam Maxon kept the Gators off the scoreboard by forcing Zack Powers to line out to the shortstop, which caught Adams off guard for a double play. Maxon then got Bryson Smith to ground out to end the threat.
The Dolphins reached their final tally in the eighth when Adam Brett Walker raked a two run double to straightaway center field.
Florida is back in action Thursday night as they conclude the SEC regular season by hosting Kentucky at McKethan Stadium. The Gators are currently tied for the SEC lead, and could earn the regular season championship, despite last nights disappointment.
More on the scenarios in play for this weekend coming soon.