Florida Baseball: One out away, Gators can't close out Kentucky, drop series opener

Florida surrendered three runs in the 8th, 9th, and 10th inning to lose 12-11
Cyndi Chambers / USA TODAY NETWORK

With their tournament hopes coming down to the wire, Florida Baseball needs to close out any chance it has against top tier competition to bolster their resume. On Friday, the Gators had the perfect opportunity to do so against fourth ranked Kentucky.

In fact the Gators had three perfect opportunities to close out the Wildcats and pick up a massive victory to give hope to the Florida faithful this squad is capable of a deep run in June.

Spoiler alert, the victory never came as the Gators lost 12-11 in extra innings.

Florida Baseball: Three Ghosts

Heading into the 8th inning, Florida sported a 6-3 lead thanks to a Colby Shelton home run and solid patchwork outings from Pierce Coppola, Fisher Jameson, and Jake Clemente.

Then it all fell apart.

Brandon Neely gave up a two run home run in the 8th to make it 6-5, but still had two outs and a chance to escape the inning with the lead when Kentucky smacked a double to tie it.

Florida responded with two runs in the bottom of the 8th and Luke McNeillie came in to close. Two outs later, it looked like the Gators were going to escape, and even after McNeillie walked the next batter, he had an 0-2 count with a chance to end the game.

Four balls later there were two men on and three pitches after that the ball was launched over the right field fence for a 9-8 Kentucky lead.

Florida once again battled back to send it to extras and in the bottom of the 10th the Gators scored twice. One would think that meant Florida was walking it off in joy and relief. Except Cade Fisher gave up three runs in the top of the 10th.

Kentucky 12, Florida 11