Because Georgia beat Florida earlier in the day, the Diamond Dogs didn’t need to beat the Gators on Saturday evening, but the Red and Black still wanted to beat the Orange and Blue, as a win over Florida would have meant a shot at the SEC Tournament championship, a chance to exact revenge on the Commodores, and, well, heck, who’s kidding whom, a win over Florida. Unfortunately, the Classic City Canines came up just short, falling 3-2 in the nightcap.
Levi Hyams led off the bottom of the first frame with a double down the left field line and came home on a first-pitch single by Kyle Farmer. Brett DeLoach scored in the second stanza by drawing a four-pitch walk, advancing to third on a first-pitch double by Kevin Ruiz, and coming home on a wild pitch. The Gators tied it up in the top of the third canto with a leadoff walk and a two-run shot to right field.
As has been the norm for the Red and Black of late, the initial burst of scoring in the early innings was followed by several stanzas during which both contestants’ pitchers were dominant from the mound. This trend extended into the top of the ninth frame, in which a leadoff double turned into the go-ahead run on a baserunner-advancing sacrifice and an RBI fielder’s choice.
Ruiz sent a one-out double down the left field line in the home half of the canto, then Joey Delmonico sacrificed him over to third. With the tying run 90 feet from home plate, Colby May went down swinging.
This was a game it would have been nice to have won, and it was a game the Red and Black could have won, as they out-hit the Gators, 7-5. However, it was a game the Athenians did not put themselves in a position to win---Georgia committed four errors to Florida’s none---and, fortunately, it was a game the Diamond Dogs didn’t need to win. Rather than mourn the near-miss, Bulldog Nation ought to celebrate the achievement and shift its focus from the SEC Tournament championship to an NCAA Regional appearance.