Florida Baseball: Gators would benefit from Tom Emanski's defensive drills

Two crucial defensive mistakes cost Florida against Kentucky on Sunday
Cyndi Chambers Sports / USA TODAY

With the Grim Reaper getting closer and closer, Florida Baseball seemed to have golden opportunity to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive on Sunday against Kentucky. Jac Caglianone was sharp on the mound and Florida was able to scratch enough runs across the plate that the Gators should have emerged with a series victory over the Wildcats.

But the inability to do something as simple as catch the ball doomed Florida and sets up a do or die series against Georgia this weekend to close out the regular season.

Florida Baseball: The Instructional Video That Gets Results

If you grew up watching Sportscenter in the 90s, then you are well versed with the commercial for the Tom Emanski Baseball World videos. It claimed he had the secret sauce for how to play defense and famously had Fred McGriff endorsing the video.

The Gators could have used some of those fundamentals on Sunday after two costly mistakes in the outfield derailed Florida's efforts.

In the second inning, after a double from Kentucky, the Wildcats lifted a flyball to right field that seemingly was going to fall into the waiting glove of Hayden Yost, except Jaylen Guy came barging over from center field, cut in front of Yost, but didn't actually make the catch.

Three runs scored in the inning, only one of which was earned.

For nine innings those would be the only runs Kentucky would score and Florida, to their credit, hung around and kept fighting into the ninth inning when Tyler Shelnut launched a home run over the left field fence to tie it up at 3-3.

To extra innings we went and like on Friday, Florida scored twice in the bottom of the 10th. It should have been a walk off series victory. But in the top of the 10th, Kentucky scored four runs, with the dagger being a bases clearing three run double. On the play, Shelnut misread the ball of the bat to allow it to sail over his head. A better read and the ball would have landed in his glove for the third out with just one run coming home.

Coincidently coming into the game, Florida had the 14th best fielding percentage in the country. But all season long it has been mistakes like not getting a lead runner out when having the chance or plays like the one Shelnut misjudged, which don't go down as an error, that have been emblematic of the struggles Florida has had.

Florida has three regular-season games left in Athens this weekend against Georgia. With a record of 26-25, Florida is facing a double whammy with their NCAA Tournament hopes. The first is whether or not they are even deemed one of the at large teams, though if softball is any indication being in the SEC should grant some leeway.

The other whammy is the fact that to even be in consideration for an at-large bid, teams have to have a winning record. If Florida drops the series against Georgia, the Gators would have to make a deep run in the SEC Tournament to go above .500.

The Gators have no one to blame but themselves for this situation. It's a shame because all they had to do was catch the ball.