The Desert Rose Band once sang "one step forward and two steps back." Florida's baseball team is living it.
Tuesday night, the Gators made their annual trek to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to take on the rival Florida State Seminoles in front of 9,269 fans. With the exception of a three-hit second inning, the Gators' bats remained in Gainesville, an unfortunate revelation on a night where Florida (11-15) pitched well enough to win.
It was another knot tied on a rope of dismal events since the Gators picked up a 7-1 victory against No. 3 Vanderbilt Friday night. Florida rode a strong start from freshman Jay Carmichael and a three-run Taylor Gushue home run to its biggest win of the season before dropping its next three games.
Any remaining sign of life from Friday night was difficult to detect by Tuesday. UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan felt his team came out flat, allowing one run in the first inning of a game the Gators went on to lose 2-1.
"I thought we were playing back on our heels in the first inning. Two of our first three hitters strike out. I just wasn't pleased with how we were playing," O'Sullivan said. "We're playing a rival. We need to come out of the gates playing like we're capable of playing, and I don't think we did that."
The Gators responded in the second with three hits and one run, but that was all they would get the entire night. Freshman left-handed reliever Danny Young showed promise in a four-inning outing but finished his day by allowing a lead-off double in the eighth that turned into the game-winning run.
"It just seems like every mistake we make is costing us a run," O'Sullivan said. "Everybody makes mistakes, it's just we've got one of these teams where they're not getting covered up."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEKEND
Life doesn't get any easier for the Gators, who are in the middle of a monstrous stretch of conference play. No. 11 Ole Miss (21-4) comes to Gainesville for a weekend series with one of the Southeastern Conference's most consistent offenses.
The main player to keep an eye on is junior college transfer Stuart Turner, a catcher who leads the Rebels in batting average (.459), extra-base hits (11), RBI (33) and slugging percentage (.706).
Florida will also face another elite pitching staff, led by junior Friday night starter Bobby Wahl (6-0, 1.67) and featuring three relievers with sub-2.00 ERAs.
Last season, Ole Miss was the first team to give Florida a series loss when the Rebels took two of three from the Gators in Oxford.
Weekend Game Times
Friday: 7 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m.