Gainesville Regional: Opportunity Missed for USF, Gators Win 5-1 in 12 Innings

Photo – Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE — The game between the Florida Gators and the South Florida Bulls was as well played a college baseball game as one could witness – until it wasn’t.

An errant pick-off attempt in the 12th inning led to the go-ahead run for the Florida Gators and sent the USF Bulls to the loser’s bracket with a 5-1 loss in Game 4 of the Gainesville Regional played at McKethan Stadium Saturday Night, and with it, an opportunity to advance in the winner’s bracket.

The Gators (44-16), the No. 3 national seed in the NCAA Tournament and the top seed in this four-team bracket, advance to the regional finals and will play either No. 3 Bethune-Cookman or get a rematch with No. 2 USF at 7 p.m. Sunday night.

Gators right-handers Alex Faedo and Michael Byrne combined for 12 innings on the mound for the Gators, limiting the Bulls to just one run.

Shane McClanahan, whose outing was cut short, (two innings after a 38 minute rain delay), Ryan Valdes, Joe Cavallaro and Andrew Perez matched the Gators duo, inning for inning, until the eventful 12th.

“The kids played their hearts out. I  had nothing but respect for what I saw tonight, but we were one hit short. We had four or five chances to get one hit. We just didn’t get it,” said USF Head Coach Mark Kingston. “Our defense, for most of the night, save for one play, was remarkable.”

Game Notes and Observations:

In a 1-1 game that lasted 12 innings, both teams missed opportunities to score runs. USF left 12 runners on base, the Gators nine.

Great game to watch, yes it was.

For USF, one that went exactly how Bulls coaches would have drawn it up. Keep the game close against one of the premier arms in the country, play good defense, turn the game over to the bullpen, score late and win. Its a formula that has helped them to 42 wins in 2017.

Last night they just didn’t get the result.

Florida came into this regional as a national seed. This is the third time I have seen them this year. It’s a program rich in the tradition of winning. They find a way to get it done, even while watching you think they are beatable.

Pitching anyone?

Alex Faedo was as advertised, featuring an arsenal of pro-ready pitches that will make him a first round pick in next week’s MLB Draft. His pitch sequences are easy to follow, the execution of those pitches makes him nearly un-hittable.

Michael Byrne was brilliant in a relief for the Gators with five shutout innings on 82 pitches and eight strikeouts, making big pitch after big pitch when it mattered most.

Ryan Valdes, Joe Cavallaro, and Andrew Perez stepped up in a big way for USF tonight. After Shane McClanahan exited the game following the rain delay, the prospects for the Bulls didn’t appear bright. Valdes, Cavallaro, and Perez were exceptional.

This game wasn’t lost in the 12th inning for USF from my perspective. Scoring chances in the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th is where my mind keeps taking me.

Opportunities presented and opportunities missed, is how it will go down for me.

About the Author

Don Miller
Don is a lifelong baseball fan and that life is getting pretty long. He makes his living at home in New Port Richey, Florida. A Tampa native he served as a fantasy correspondent for ESPN for the Tampa Bay Rays, back when they were called the Devil Rays. He loves college baseball, Tampa sports and follows them both with unrivaled passion. Don is also a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and his work has been featured on a number of baseball, sports, business and financial venues.