By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor
Entering the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and the league’s outright regular season champion, Florida Gators baseball (37-20) dug itself an early hole and eventually dropped its first game of the event 4-2 to the No. 9 seed Kentucky Wildcats (34-22).
A subpar start from Florida freshman right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) resulted in two quick runs for Kentucky in the contest’s first frame.
Freshman designated hitter Peter Alonso (1/4, RBI) cut the Gators’ deficit in half with an RBI ground out in the second, but Shore gave up his first home run of the season in the top of the third inning to Wildcats third baseman Max Kuhn. It was a two-run shot that extended UK’s lead to 4-1.
UF threatened frequently in the contest but ultimately struggled to score. Florida managed to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth but only produced a single run via a sacrifice fly off the bat of junior right fielder Braden Mattson (1/3, RBI, R).
The Gators had another great opportunity in the bottom of the eighth with two on and no outs, but a double play and ground out ended the inning with Florida unable to cut into its deficit any further.
Once Shore left in the top of the sixth, three Gators relievers combined to allow just two hits and a walk while striking out three over the remainder of the contest.
Now in the losers bracket and one defeat away from elimination, Florida must count on its bats to come alive Thursday against No. 4 seed South Carolina at 1:30 p.m. The Gators will have to win four-straight games in order to capture the SEC Tournament title.