It was a dramatic end to the series finale between the Gators and Tigers of Missouri. No. 12 Florida (30-15) defeated Missouri (19-24) in the tenth inning off a single by freshman Ryan Larson to win the third game 6-5 Sunday at McKethan Stadium. The Gators are now leading the conference by two games with three conference series left to go.
The game-winner by Larson came with two outs in the tenth after first baseman Zack Powers singled and stole second base. P/DH A.J. Puk was intentionally walked to bring up Larson who singled to center field to score Powers and win the game for Florida. Larson ended the day 2-2 after entering the game in the seventh inning.
Florida and Missouri went back and forth as there were four lead changes throughout the game. The Gators struck first in the first inning with a ground-rule double RBI from catcher Taylor Gushue that scored shortstop Richie Martin. The next batter, junior Braden Mattson, grounded out to shortstop to score center fielder Harrison Bader from third and give the Gators an early 2-0 lead.
The Tigers responded with three runs in the third with RBI hits from center fielder Jake Ring and DH Eric Anderson.
Third baseman John Sternagel tied the game in the second inning with an RBI single to left center to score left fielder Buddy Reed who had reached on a fielding error and stole second base.
After Missouri scored single runs the fifth and sixth innings, the Gators responded by tying the game in the home half of the sixth. Bader and Mattson each had RBI singles as Florida had five hits in the inning but left two men on base.
Florida stranded runners at the corners in the bottom of the ninth before Larson came through to win the game in the tenth.
Junior Bobby Poyner (4-3) picked up the win for Florida after tossing the last four innings and giving up no runs on only two hits. Missouri reliever Peter Fairbanks (4-5) took the loss tossing the final 2.2 innings for the Tigers and giving up one run on three hits and two walks.
Gushue and Powers were both 2-5. Mattson collected two RBI for the Gators in the victory. Florida scored six runs on 11 hits and had three errors defensively. Missouri had five runs on 11 hits and made two errors in the field.
The Gators will be off until next Friday (May 2) when they travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide (29-15). It will be a critical match-up for the two teams as they are the leading teams in the SEC. Alabama dropped two out of three games this past weekend against South Carolina and will play Samford on Tuesday before their visit from the Gators. The first pitch Friday night will be at 7:35 PM.