Florida Gators baseball edges Kentucky 6-5, advances to SEC Tournament title game

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Overcoming three elimination games in as many days, No. 1 seed Florida Gators (40-20) advanced to the finals of the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Saturday with a 6-5 win over the No. 9 seed Kentucky Wildcats (35-23) at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama.

Florida rallied late in a back-and-forth contest with junior third baseman Josh Tobias (2/3, RBI, 2 R) knocking in the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth to pave the way for sophomore right-hander Eric Hanhold (3.1 IP, 2 H, 4 K) to collect the win in a stellar relief appearance.

The Gators looked to be in danger of getting blown out by the Wildcats in the early going, but Kentucky was simply unable to pile on the runs and put the game out of reach. A lineout double play killed UK’s momentum in the first inning, as did leaving the bases full in the second. UF was fortunate to only be down 3-0.


Florida responded with two runs in the top of the third off back-to-back RBIs from junior second baseman Casey Turgeon (1/4, RBI, R, BB) and sophomore shortstop Richie Martin (1/5, RBI, R). UF’s first lead came when sophomore center fielder Harrison Bader knocked in two to give the Gators a 4-3 advantage in the fifth. Bader will enter Sunday’s title game batting .625 (10-for-16) in this week’s tournament.

Freshman left-handed pitcher Kirby Snead (4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R) kept the Wildcats tamed for more than four innings but ran into some trouble in the sixth.

That’s when Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan called on Hanhold to take over, a decision that proved to be just what UF needed. Though Hanhold allowed one inherited runner to score, spotting Kentucky a 5-4 lead, he quickly stopped the bleeding and kept UK off the board from the seventh inning onward.

This time, the Wildcats’ lead did not last long.

Bader (3/4, 3 RBI) slugged another RBI single to tie the game at 5-5. The Gators retook the lead and held on to it for good when Tobias came through with a clutch single to right field, scoring freshman left fielder Ryan Larson (1/3, R).

Florida will face No. 3 seed LSU in Sunday’s SEC Tournament Championship, which is set to for 4:30 p.m. and will air live on ESPN2. The Gators swept the Tigers (2-1, 6-2, 11-7) earlier this season in Gainesville, Florida. UF will be the home team in Hoover.

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3 Responses to “Florida Gators baseball edges Kentucky 6-5, advances to SEC Tournament title game”

  1. Gatoralum88 says:

    An impressive win! It was nice to see them give KY some payback & come from behind twice to do it. That’s the best I’ve seen Hanhold pitch this season. If Sully can start counting on him along with the rest of their pitching depth??? All I can say to that is “Wow!”. Using just 3 pitchers today even allows Sully plenty of pitching depth tomorrow. I’m not sure who’ll start or if Rhodes is even a possibility. Regardless, Poyner, Whitson, & Harris give them PLENTY of veteran arms for tomorrow’s finale. I like their chances! Maybe their season sweep will even give them a psychological edge. Also, Bader, Gushue, & Tobias are suddenly hitting like they’re seeing beach balls cross the plate. Go Gators!!! HA! I just watched (top seed?) UVA’s pitching completely gag a lead over Half-ass U in the ACC tourney. If UF wins tomorrow, is it possible the a Gators could be THE top overall seed in the big tourney??? Just a thought…not that it matters.

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    Both Baseball and Softball are confusing teams this year. They are both good enough to win it all but inconsistent enough that they could be out in straight losses

  3. Gatoralum88 says:

    You can’t pitch much better than they did. Just 1 bad pitch. It’s become a broken record on these posts at this point that their offense (or lack thereof) will eventually be their downfall.

    Seeing it was a “home game” for LSU, I guess I’m no different than ALL other Gator fans in that I enjoyed this one from my home. If they do end up as the top overall seed tomorrow (as ESPN2 kept speculating) they’ll HAVE TO BE the weakest hitting top seed EVER! Sully, WE ALL KNOW small ball is the ONLY way you can score runs so COMMIT TO IT!!! 3 double-plays with 0 outs is inexcusable!

    Turgeon, adjust your stance OR SOMETHING! 2B’s & RF’s AREN’T EVEN MOVING to field your balls these days. Making contact is great unless it’s to the same 2 players EVERY TIME!

    It’s a good thing pitching & defense are the biggest keys this time of year because they’re GREAT at the first & very good at the second. If they’re to have any chance/hope of going far, Turgeon, Martin, Powers, & Reed will have contribute some way with their bats. Sorry Andrew, I couldn’t wait to vent. Go Gators!

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