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Florida Baseball Falls To Vanderbilt, Faces Elimination In SEC Tournament

Florida baseball had a golden opportunity to head into the weekend at the 2012 SEC Tournament with a chance to sweep the whole thing. And then — and tell me if this shocks you — the Gators' bats let them down, failing to produce in a 2-1 loss to Vanderbilt on Thursday.

The Gators, who took a 6-1 win over Auburn on Tuesday that earned them the right to face the red-hot Commodores, never led on Thursday, with their hitting failing to back up a strong outing from Hudson Randall. Randall threw 5.2 strong innings, allowing just three hits, but gave up two walks and a two-out, two-run triple by Riley Reynolds in the fourth inning that would be the difference in the game. Florida's bullpen continued its customary dominance, with five relievers combining to allow just two hits in 2.1 innings of relief, and four of them getting just one out apiece.

Those quiet bats are not a surprise for a Florida team that has struggled to put runs on the board for a month or two, but the silence in the middle of the order — Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino, and Brian Johnson combined to go 0-for-8, though Tucker walked once and Zunino twice, and Johnson personally left five men on base — was an unexpected failure.

Florida must now win an elimination game with SEC East champion South Carolina on Friday at 7:30 p.m. to have any chance of taking home another ring from Hoover. Johnson will get the start for the Gators.