In the history of college baseball, teams from the state of Florida have never met on the field as the top ranked teams in the country – until Friday night.
In front of a sellout crowd inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field, the top ranked Miami Hurricanes and the second ranked Florida Gators played like the nation’s two best teams and gave the fans extra innings baseball – and sent the visiting fans home happy as the Gators got the 2-1 victory in 11 innings.
Florida got the lead for good when Jacob Young doubled down the left field line, bringing home Austin Langworthy with the winning run off the ‘Canes normal closer Daniel Federman (0-1).
Miami got a strong start from redshirt senior pitcher Brian Van Belle, who struck out a career high in the season opener, with six strikeouts in the first three innings – but the Pembroke Pines native ran into trouble in the fifth inning as Florida got the bases loaded and scored the game’s first run on a throwing error by ‘Canes shortstop Anthony Vilar.
The ‘Canes had a chance to do damage in the bottom of the inning, but second baseman Tyler Paige’s strikeout with two runners in scoring position put an end to that threat. In the sixth, they tied it up after left fielder Jordan Lala doubled down the right field line and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly.
Van Belle finished his night after throwing seven inning while allowing the single run on four hits, striking out nine Gators and walking just one for the game. Tyler Keysor came into the game in the eighth and got two outs before walking Jud Fabian – after which JP Gates came into the game and got Langworthy to pop out to end the threat.
Once again, Miami had their chance in the bottom of the inning with a runner in scoring position before catcher Adrian Del Castillo struck out looking to end the threat – one of 10 on the game for Gators ace Tommy Mace, who went nine innings and gave up just three hits while walking two.
Gates shined in his relief appearance, getting the Gators out in order in the ninth and the first two batters out in the 10th inning before turning the ball over to Federman – who gave up a double to Josh Rivera before getting Cal Greenfield to fly out to right field to end the threat.
The ‘Canes thought they had a chance to end it in the 10th inning when a bunt from Tony Jenkins ended up with a runner on third base – until Jenkins was called out on interference and Lala grounded out weakly to second base two batters later to end the threat.
Ben Specht got the win for Florida – their ninth in the last 11 games between the rivals – while Nick Pogue pitched a scoreless 11th inning for his first save of the season. Miami looks to break a three game losing streak to the Gators on Saturday, with first pitch between the rivals at 7 p.m.