Gators rally in Game 3, sweep Bulls in Gainesville

Opening weekend came to a dramatic close for USF on Sunday, but just like it did for the entire series, the Bulls didn’t come up with a win.

After USF took a 6-3 lead into the ninth inning against No. 6 Florida in the final game of a three-game, season-opening series, the Gators rallied in the bottom of the ninth, scoring three runs to tie the game and went on to win 7-6 Sunday to complete a sweep in Gainesville.

“We need to pitch when we have to and hit when we have to,” said USF coach Lelo Prado. “We have to play for nine innings.”

UF centerfielder Matt den Dekker hit a two-out, two-run single to cut USF’s lead to 6-5 in the ninth, and the Gators added another run to tie it. In the bottom of the 10th, freshman Mike Zunino hit a walk-off single to send the Bulls home empty-handed.

“We played better but we didn’t finish, so it doesn’t count,” Prado said. “We should compete with these guys.”

USF outhit Florida 14-11 on Sunday, though the Bulls left 10 runners on base.

“We played like we wanted to play but we couldn’t get the little things done,” said outfielder Junior Carlin, who went 4-for-12 in the series.

Prado said he was disappointed with the team’s play throughout most of the weekend, mainly the offense. The Bulls (0-3) only mustered three runs in the previous two games.

On Friday, junior Randy Fontanez gave up six earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 6-2 loss. The Gators (3-0) hit three home runs.

Perhaps the one bright spot was the play of freshman starting pitcher Ray Delphey, who struck out eight batters in five innings, while only giving up two earned runs in a 9-1 loss on Saturday.

“I felt good,” said Delphey, who made his first collegiate start. “I was nervous and a little shaky at first, but I worked through it.”