Gators strand 11, lose rubber match to San Bernardino

The Gators lost a tight 3-2 game in the rubber match of their series against California State University, San Bernardino on Sunday at Maloney Field.

Gator’s starting pitcher Dillon Houser kicked off the game with a 1-2-3 first inning, getting a ground out and two fly outs. Third baseman Sam Schmidt doubled to right field to lead off the bottom of the first. Two batters later, center fielder Jacob Lopez singled Schmidt home to give the Gators a 1-0 lead. Lopez would go 1-4 with an RBI on the day.

“I think three out of four times I swung it well,” Lopez said. “Today I just hit it right where they were at.”

In the second inning, the Gators made two quick outs, but a two-strike double to center by shortstop Jackson Kritsch kept the inning alive. After Schmidt walked, second baseman Zac Neumann singled up the middle to drive Kritsch home and push the lead to 2-0.

Houser received his first blemish in the fourth inning, allowing a solo home run to Coyotes left fielder Dillon Fahr. It was Fahr’s first home run and Houser’s third home run allowed this season.

The Gators and Coyotes went back to trading zeroes before the Coyotes broke through against reliever Matthew Hernandez. Hernandez got two quick outs on seven pitches but the Coyotes rallied with a single and a walk. Austin Lundeen, Coyotes’ right fielder, doubled to left center on the seventh pitch of the at bat to give San Bernardino a 3-2 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“I thought we got on their starter,” said right fielder Myles Franklin, who went 2-4. “We just didn’t capitalize after we came out and scored first.”

The Gators got runners to third in the sixth and seventh, as well as a runner on first in the eighth, but couldn’t capitalize. They left at least one runner on in each of the first eight innings. All in all, the Gators left 11 on base over the course of the game.  

“It’s becoming a common theme, missed opportunities, with our offense, unfortunately,” said head coach Tony Schifano. “We’re getting the right guys up and the right opportunity and not coming through.”

The loss was a missed chance for the Gators to improve and win five of their last 10 games for the first time this season. They’re now 4-6 in their last 10.

“I just didn’t think we were ready to hit the whole game,” Franklin said. “We just didn’t compete when we needed to.”

“It was a good baseball game and they got one more key hit than we did at the end of the day,” Schifano said.

The Gators play Menlo College at Maloney Field on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.