This was one of the strangest baseball games in Gator history.
Miami’s starting pitcher was scratched from his start minutes before the game. Florida’s starting pitcher left the game after facing just one batter. Florida scored its first run on a balk. Miami scored its first run on a passed ball.
But check out the teams’ records. It’s going to count anyway.
Buddy Reed drove in Josh Tobias with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, like every little kid dreams about doing, and the Gators took game one from the Hurricanes, 4-3.
Here’s what it looked like:
Buddy Reed with the walk off base hit and the Gators beat Miami 4-3!!! https://t.co/KEa4Vves7X
— InAllKindsOfWeather.com (@AllKindsWeather) February 21, 2015
Reed’s heroics capped off a Gator comeback that was engineered without power hitting Pete Alonso, who isn’t expected to be back for a few weeks. That’s not to say the Gators couldn’t have used him- Florida only picked up seven hits- but it was an impressive job by Florida to get hits when they absolutely needed to. Catcher Mike Rivera was responsible for the other two Gator runs that were driven in, driving the ball to the opposite field to score two runs in the sixth inning. That hit came with Florida down 3-1.
But as they say, defense is what’s most important, and Florida would have almost surely lost without two tremendous defensive efforts- one of them by Reed.
First, the job Bobby Poyner did coming in for ace Logan Shore after he hurt himself on the second batter of the game was tremendous. Poyner had absolutely no idea he’d be needed this early, and had to warm up from scratch after being told he was needed out of the blue. He calmly took the mound and allowed four hits in 5.1 innings, striking out seven Hurricanes. That’s more than you can ask for from a relief pitcher, even if Poyner has started several games before. After he came out, Miami scored all three of their runs in the 6th to go up 3-1.
Then came Rivera’s two RBI single to tie the game at 3-3 in the sixth. Two innings later, Miami’s Zack Collins singled. Willie Abreu then doubled in the gap in right field, which seemed certain to score Collins. But Reed threw an incredible relay- off balance, I might add- to shortstop Richie Martin, who then gunned Collins down at home, preserving the tie. It remained 3-3 heading into the ninth, when Florida’s Taylor Lewis came in and mowed down the Hurricanes, 1-2-3. So to the bottom of the ninth we went, still tied at three.
That’s when Reed became the offensive hero.
Leadoff man Josh Tobias was hit by a pitch. Ryan Larson then sacrificed him over to second, and then with two outs, Reed delivered the game winner.
That puts Kevin O’Sullivan’s Florida Gators at 5-0 on the year, and it gives them their first quality win. As I’ve said before, the Gators’ schedule is unusually easy this year, so Florida is going to be counted on to pick up big wins whenever they can get them if they want to get the type of high seeding they’re looking for in the NCAA Tournament. Winning one of the next two games against Miami (if not both, obviously) would definitely be considered a quality series win, even though Miami lost a midweek game to Florida Atlantic.
So it’s a good start, obviously. Now let’s take the series tomorrow and go from there.