Vanderbilt bilks Florida's quiet bats

HOOVER, Ala. -- The Florida Gators couldn't overcome a lack of timely hits against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday night, losing 2-1 in the third round of the SEC baseball tournament.

The Gators stranded 11 runners on base against Vanderbilt pitching, leaving opportunities on the base paths nearly every inning of the three-hour game. UF mustered just four hits, only one going for extra bases.

Vanderbilt starting pitcher Sam Selman walked away with his ninth win of the year, allowing two hits in seven innings of work. The freshman threw 120 pitches, struggling with control throughout the night. In addition to four walks, he hit two batters. But his above-average fastball and biting curveball were enough to keep the Gators off balance.

“Yeah, he was pretty good. He pitched out of trouble," said VU coach Tim Corbin. "This is something that we have seen here in the last 10 weeks. It is hard to pinpoint one guy, but our success as a team stems a lot from what he was doing.

Selman blew away the UF hitters at points, striking out seven batters. Corbin said after the game that he's been proud of the way Selman has competed throughout the season.

"He has come a long way," Corbin said. "He has a good arm. He has always been able to throw the fastball. The reason he is having success is his ability to throw breaking balls and fastballs for strikes.”

UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said simply to give credit where it was due.

"He beat us," O'Sullivan said of Selman. "It was just one of those nights. I think you have to give all the credit to Selman. He threw the ball really well.

“He threw just enough breaking balls for strikes to keep us off. He really located his fastball [against] the right-handers. He did a really good job of that tonight.”

Redshirt freshman Preston Tucker started the game in right field, hitting third in the batting order. Despite driving in UF's only run with a sacrifice fly, he said he was disappointed with the way the team as a whole performed at the plate.

“It’s obviously frustrating when you’re not swinging the bat well," Tucker said. "Our guys couldn’t put anything together. We were getting people on base late in the inning when we couldn’t really start anything going. Then when we had runners in scoring position, we couldn’t really cash in. It was a combination of things.”

Hudson Randall started on the mound for UF but didn't have his normal control, walking two batters in the fourth inning that led to both of the Commodores runs. It was only his eighth and ninth walks of the season in more than 78 innings of work. It's just his second loss of the season.

“I was looking for a better start out of myself," Randall said. "I guess I didn’t have my best stuff. I was just competing as hard as I could out there, and they came up with a big hit when they needed it.”

Florida will face South Carolina on Friday afternoon.