Florida Gators baseball wins 2015 SEC Tournament, earns No. 4 seed in NCAA Tournament

No. 4 seed Florida Gators baseball (44-16) rebounded from an early loss to win four straight games and capture the 2015 SEC Tournament Championship. Florida defeated the No. 2 seed Vanderbilt Commodores 7-3 on Sunday in Hoover, Alabama, to clinch its seventh SEC Tournament title, first since 2011.

On Monday, the Gators were awarded the No. 4 overall seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. As such, Florida will host the Gainesville Regional and would host a Super Regional should it advance past the opening portion of the event. UF will host Florida Atlantic, South Florida and Florida A&M in regional play and would match up with the winner of the Tallahassee Regional (hosted by Florida State).

With their backs against the wall, the Gators won four win-or-go-home games in as many days to overcome an opening-round loss and early trip to the loser’s bracket of the SEC Tournament. Florida had a bye in round one and dropped its second round game 7-6 to Arkansas in heartbreaking fashion early Thursday morning.

UF faced elimination in every game going forward but did not falter, starting with an 11-2 victory over Auburn. Florida got revenge against Arkansas in a 10-0 run-ruled game and won a 2-1 thriller against SEC regular-season champion LSU in the semifinals.

In Sunday’s finale, the Gators and Commodores endured two weather delays in the first three innings of play; UF led 2-1 during the first and 5-2 during the second, which lasted for two hours and 15 minutes with the teams in the bottom of the third inning. Junior right-handed pitcher Eric Hanhold (2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, K, WP), the Gators’ starter, exited after the second delay as the UF bullpen was asked to fend off VU over the final six innings.

Here are three takeaways from the trophy-winning game:

1. Setting the tone early: Junior left fielder Harrison Bader (1/5, HR, RBI, 2 R) followed up a 3-for-4 day against LSU with a leadoff solo homer in the title game. Bader was placed at the top spot of the batting order due to the absence of freshman second baseman Dalton Guthrie, who sprained his wrist in Saturday’s semifinal game.

2. Have yourself a day, Buddy: If Guthrie is forced to miss any more time, the leadoff spot might should go to sophomore center fielder Buddy Reed (3/4, 2 R, RBI, BB). Reed’s ability to do it all was on display Sunday, from his RBI double to left center to legging out an infield single with his eye-popping speed.

3. Lefties lead the way: When the Commodores threatened to get back in the game, Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan turned to junior left-handed pitcher Danny Young (3.1 IP, 2 H, 3 K), who earned the win as he carried Florida into the eighth inning as UF extended its lead to 7-3. As Young started to fade, O’Sullivan called on another southpaw, sophomore Kirby Snead, to close the game. Snead (1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K) got it done, working out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth inning and avoiding trouble with two base runners in the bottom of the ninth.

Photo Credit: AL.com

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Florida Gators softball sweeps Super Regional, will defend title in Women’s College World Series

Senior right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger was dominant once again for the No. 1 Florida Gators on Sunday, sending her team to a 1-0 win over the Kentucky Wildcats in Super Regional play and to the Women’s College World Series for the third straight season.

Florida swept Kentucky 7-0 and 1-0 at Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, behind Haeger’s 14.0 shutout innings. The National Player of the Year finalist has now held the Wildcats scoreless in 29.2 consecutive innings.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators softball sweeps Super Regional, will defend title in Women’s College World Series

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Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball fights back to beat LSU, advance to SEC Tournament title game

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 4 seed Florida Gators baseball (43-16) was lifted over the No. 1 seed LSU Tigers on Saturday by a ninth-inning solo homer from freshman catcher Mike Rivera (1/2, RBI, R, HR, 2 BB), who pushed Florida to a dramatic 2-1 win in the semifinals of the 2015 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama.

Junior right-handed pitcher Taylor Lewis (6-1, 1.21 ERA) earned the win in an extended relief appearance. He allowed one base runner over 4.1 innings as he sent UF to the event’s title game against No. 2 Vanderbilt on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Here are three takeaways from the thrilling Gators come-from-behind victory:

Continue Reading » Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball fights back to beat LSU, advance to SEC Tournament title game

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Lauren Haeger leads Florida Gators softball to 7-0 rout of Kentucky in Super Regional opener

Perfect through 5.1 innings, Florida Gators senior right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger mowed down the Kentucky Wildcats and led her team to a 7-0 victory on Saturday afternoon in the first game of Super Regional action at Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Haeger (7.0 IP, 2 H, 6 K) retired the first 16 batters she faced before giving up a hit in the top half of the sixth inning. She responded with a solo home run to open the bottom frame, which was quickly complemented by a two-run shot from junior center fielder Kirsti Merritt (2/2, HR, 2 RBI, BB) that pushed the No. 1 Gators ahead 7-0.

Continue Reading » Lauren Haeger leads Florida Gators softball to 7-0 rout of Kentucky in Super Regional opener

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Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball earns sweet revenge vs. Arkansas, set to face LSU

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

After a heartbreaking loss Thursday morning, No. 4 seed Florida Gators baseball (42-16) got sweet revenge on the No. 5 seed Arkansas Razorbacks with a 10-0 run-rule win in seven innings Friday night in Hoover, Alabama.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (7.0 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 11 K) was locked in from the get go and received an early six-run cushion from his teammates as the Gators cruised to the semifinals of the 2015 SEC Tournament.

Here are three takeaways from Florida’s big win:

Continue Reading » Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball earns sweet revenge vs. Arkansas, set to face LSU

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Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball roasts Auburn, advances in SEC Tournament

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

With its collective back against the wall, No. 4 seed Florida Gators baseball (41-16) showed up big after a half-day turnaround and avoided elimination with a 11-2 thumping of the No. 9 seed Auburn Tigers in the loser’s bracket of the 2015 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama.

Less than 11 hours after a devastating 7-6 loss to Arkansas that ended around 1:30 a.m. local time, Florida got up for a 12:30 p.m. start and made a statement by taking an early lead and never looking back.

Here are three takeaways from the Gators’ dominant win:

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Takeaways: Florida Gators baseball blows a lead vs. Arkansas, puts national seed at risk

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

The No. 5 seed Arkansas Razorbacks to score three runs in the top of the ninth inning to deliver a crushing 7-6 loss to the No. 4 seed Florida Gators (40-16), in the second round of the 2015 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, early Thursday morning.

Arkansas’ come-from-behind victory, which occurred past 1:30 a.m. local time, puts Florida’s chances of postseason success at serious risk. The Gators have been dumped into the loser’s bracket of the SEC Tournament – and consequently will play an elimination game less than 12 hours after their last completed – and may be at risk of losing the national seed they worked so hard for at the end of the regular season.

Here are three takeaways from the shocking early-morning loss:

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Takeaways: Florida seniors shine vs. Auburn, set Gators baseball up for postseason, national seed

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 7 Florida Gators baseball (40-15, 19-11 SEC) closed out the 2015 regular season with a series win over the Auburn Tigers. It marked the fourth series in a row in which Florida dropped its opener (4-1), the third straight in which it recovered to win the next two games (4-3, 3-1).

UF ultimately finished in fourth place in the league behind LSU (20-8), Vanderbilt (20-10) and Texas A&M (18-10). Nevertheless, the Gators are well-positioned to earn a national seed and host a regional in the 2015 NCAA Tournament due to their high RPI (No. 6), nonconference strength of schedule (No. 13) and recent series win over VU.

The Aggies (No. 7 RPI) and Commodores (No. 11 RPI) will both be entering the 2015 SEC Tournament with the goal of jumping Florida in the national seed pecking order.

Here are five takeaways from the final series of the 2015 regular season:

Continue Reading » Takeaways: Florida seniors shine vs. Auburn, set Gators baseball up for postseason, national seed

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