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Casey Turgeon reached base four times but never made it home in UF's 3-2 loss to College of Charleston.

Saturday May 31, 2014Long Night at Ballpark Leaves Gators Facing Elimination

Casey Turgeon reached base four times but never made it home in UF's 3-2 loss to College of Charleston.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The storm clouds hovered. And then lightning made an entrance. Finally, it started to pour.

Unfortunately for Florida, it stopped raining an inning too late once Friday night's game against College of Charleston started after a 3-hour, 10-minute weather delay.

The No. 4-seed Cougars scored three runs on seven hits in the top of the first off Gators starter Logan Shore and held on for a 3-2 win in the first round of the Gainesville Regional.

The loss dropped No. 1-seed Florida into the loser's bracket, where the Gators will face North Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m. in an elimination game. College of Charleston faces No. 2-seed Long Beach State, a 6-1 winner over the Tar Heels on Friday afternoon.

When Taylor Gushue struck out to end the game, the clock atop the McKethan Stadium scoreboard flashed 1:20 a.m., meaning a quick turnaround for the Gators.

While the Gators attempted to climb back against College of Charleston, North Carolina was long gone and back at its hotel well-rested.

Gators head coach Kevin O'Sullivan had a simple message to the Gators after their first regional home loss under his direction. The Gators were 12-0 in the four previous home regionals in O'Sullivan's seven seasons.

"We've got no choice,'' O'Sullivan said. "The pregame meal is at 9 a.m. We win we advance, we don't, the season's over. We know what's in front of us."

Logan Shore

The trouble started immediately for Shore as the Cougars' first five batters recorded hits. Brandon Murray's RBI double delivered the first run and Nick Pappas' two-run double made it 3-0.

Shore (photo, left) needed 33 pitches to get out of the first inning but settled down to last five innings and keep the Gators in the game.

However, whatever home-field advantage the Gators had got washed away by the storm that passed through town about an hour prior to the scheduled 7:05 p.m. first pitch.

When Shore threw the game's first pitch at 10:15, a much smaller crowd than expected hung around to catch a game with a West Coast start time.

The Cougars were awake.

"They came out of the gates obviously really quick,'' O'Sullivan said. "I thought we settled down and pitched good from that point forward. They did enough to win."

The Gators threatened to get back into the game in the third and fourth innings against Cougars starter Taylor Clarke. However, they left the bases loaded both innings.

The oddest moment of the game came in the fifth inning.

Following a single by Harrison Bader and walk by Gushue, the Gators had two on with no outs when Braden Mattson stepped to the plate against Clarke.

Mattson drove Clarke's 0-1 pitch deep to center field, where Cougars center fielder Morgan Phillips leapt at the wall to make the catch. Phillips appeared to make the catch for a moment, but the ball dropped to the ground and he threw back to the infield.

However, Mattson passed Gushue on the basepath between first and second and was called out. Bader later scored in the inning on pinch-hitter Mike Fahrman's ground out but the baserunning mistake cost Florida momentum.

"I think all three of them lost sight of the ball,'' O'Sullivan said. "I think they thought he caught it. It was a big point in the game. You've got to keep your head up and obviously you can't pass the runner."

Reliever Justin Shafer did his job with four perfect innings in relief of Shore, striking out five. The Gators added another run in the sixth inning on Richie Martin's RBI sacrifice fly but were unable to score in their final three at-bats.

"I was just trying to keep us in the ballgame and give our hitters a chance,'' Shafer said. "At any time they can break it open."

Clarke and relievers Eric Bauer and Michael Hanzlik kept the Gators' lineup in check.

Second baseman Casey Turgeon went 2-for-3 and walked twice but never scored. He refused to blame the long delay for the Gators' lackluster offensive performance.

"We've been in rain delays before,'' Turgeon said. "It's no excuse."

A little more than seven hours after Friday night's game ended early Saturday morning, the Gators planned to meet for breakfast with their season on the line.

They know one way to keep their season alive.

"Let's face it, you've got to score more than two runs if you are going to win in tournament play,'' O'Sullivan said. "It's just that simple."

 

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