HOOVER, Ala. - Florida had just 11 hours and seven minutes to rest up for their elimination game against Alabama. Apparently that's all they needed. No. 4 seed Florida (45-12) beat No. 9 seed Alabama (32-26) 5-4 in Game 10 of the 2016 SEC Baseball Tournament. The Gators lost a 14-inning battle earlier that same day against LSU that ended at 1:48 am CT. The first pitch of Game 10 was thrown at 12:55 pm CT.
The defending tournament champions are in familiar territory. Last year the Gators lost their tournament opener to Arkansas 7-6 in a game ending after 1:30 am. Less than 12 hours later they beat Auburn 11-2 in an elimination game.
"We are a team that never gives up and we definitely grind through it," Buddy Reed said. "You know we were up to maybe 3:45, 4:00 in the morning after that long game against LSU. We showed fight, persistence and determination and we got away with the win today."
Florida right-hander Brady Singer (5-4) held Alabama to one hit in 5-of-6 innings pitched before head coach Kevin O'Sullivan heavily rotated a deep Gators bullpen, utilizing five relievers to close out the final three innings. Sophomore Nick Horvath (2-1) earned just his second win of the season and right-hander Shaun Anderson earned his eleventh save.
Florida scored quickly in the first when Jonathan India hit an RBI groundout to bring in Reed.
Despite a 1-2-3 outing in the bottom of the first, Alabama responded in the second inning with four hits and three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Singles by Will Haynie and Chance Vincent put two runners on base. Facing two outs, Daniel Cucjen smacked a 2 RBI double down the left-field line. Hunter Webb stepped up to the plate next, doubling to left center, bringing Cucjen in for a two-run lead.
The Florida batters woke up in the third, taking a 4-3 lead with three runs and three hits.
Alabama pitcher Jake Walters (5-4) had a rough start to the third, walking Reed, who then advanced to second on a passed ball. Walters then walked Dalton Guthrie, followed by RBI singles by the next two batters, JJ Schwarz and India.
Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard called Matt Foster (5-3) from the bullpen to pitch for Walters. Deacon Liput hit an RBI to bring in Schwarz before Foster retired the final two batters.
It was Walters' shortest outing of the season, walking 5-of-13 batters faced, allowing four runs off of two hits in two innings.
Alabama batters struggled against Singer, with only one hit across three innings, from the fourth to the sixth. Singer walked Henry and struck Wood with a pitch to start the bottom of the seventh, prompting head coach Kevin O'Sullivan to call on his bullpen.
O'Sullivan sent Frank Rubio to the mound, one of four relievers he would utilize to close out the inning.
Rubio struck out the next two batters before Florida left-hander Kirby Snead (3-1) was sent in to face left-handed batter Keith Holcombe. Gaspard opted to send Connor Short in to pinch-hit, a move that paid dividends with an RBI single, tying the game 4-4.
O'Sullivan then sent freshman right-hander Michael Byrne to face Cobie Vance, who reached on a throwing error, loading the bases.
O'Sullivan pulled one last pitching rotation out of his pocket, sending Nick Horvath (2-1) in, who retired Georgie Salem to close the inning.
Thomas Burrows (2-1) took over Alabama's pitching duties in the top of the eighth. Mike Rivera singled up the middle of Burrows' second pitch of the inning. Three batters later Danny Reyes hit just his second double of the year to bring in the go-ahead run, giving Florida a 5-4 lead. Reyes entered today's game with only two hits for the entire season.
"(Danny) works so hard in the cages on his hitting," said Reed. "It was a great job that he got that double. God is good. You know Danny put a great swing on it and obviously it dropped in and drove in the run and that's all you can ask for from a great hitter like Danny."
It was the first loss of the year for Burrows.
Florida improved to 35-0 when it scores five runs or more and 8-5 in games decided by one run.
Florida's timeline over the last two games (All on May 26):
1:48 AM: Game vs. LSU ends
2:15 AM: Arrive back at hotel
11:11 AM: Leave hotel for Hoover Met
12:55 PM: 1st pitch vs. Alabama
UP NEXT: The Gators play the loser of Game 12 between No. 1 seed Mississippi State and No. 5 seed LSU in Game 14 on Friday. The game will start at approximately 7:30 pm ET / 6:30 pm CT or approximately 30 minutes after the completion of Game 13, which starts at 4:00 pm ET / 3:00 pm CT.