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Gators blow another golden chance

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For the second time in four games, No. 13 Florida blew a golden chance at a walk-off win. After allowing Florida Gulf Coast to tie the game in the seventh inning, the Gators couldn't keep the game from going to extra innings.

Second baseman Casey Turgeon got to third base with no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, but Florida couldn't bring him home for the win.

And a bases-loaded, no-outs opportunity in the bottom of the 10th inning went to waste with a lineup that has been incapable of stringing together hits consistently disappearing in another crucial moment.

"We work on that in practice and it's a big thing," center fielder Cody Dent said. "Infield's in, we've just got to hit a pop up. We just didn't execute."

The Eagles didn't waste any time making the Gators pay, blasting a three-run homer in the top of the 11th to win Sunday's series finale 7-4 to sweep the series.

"You've got bases loaded and no outs, somebody's got to hit a fly ball," coach Kevin O'Sullivan said, almost at a loss for words. "What else can you do?"

First baseman Vickash Ramjit had a chance to end the game with two outs in the bottom of the 10th and the bases loaded, the second time in four games he's had an opportunity like that.

On Wednesday against Georgia Southern, he was in the same situation in the bottom of the 9th inning. He struck out. On Sunday, he flied to center to end the threat.

But he was far from the only one at fault against FGCU.

Kevin Stypulkowski and Christian Dicks also had a chance to get the job done in the bottom of the 10th. Stypulkowski flew out to shallow center -- not far enough to give Casey Turgeon a chance to score from third -- before Dicks grounded into a fielder's choice at first that got Turgeon thrown out at the plate.

"We've got runners at third with less than two (outs), you can drive in a run without getting a hit," O'Sullivan said. "We had second and third with nobody out Friday, scored one. We have that same situation, score one. Yesterday we had a runner at third with less than two outs, we hit a ground ball back to the pitcher on a 1-0 count.

"Then today? You know we've got bases loaded, nobody out. Swings get too big. You've just got to stay short to the ball and just hit a fly ball, give us a chance to score a run. It's just as simple as that."

Reliever Justin Shafer (L 0-1, 6.75 ERA) picked up the loss for Florida after giving up a three-run homer to Sean Dwyer in the top of the 11th inning. Harrison Cooney (W 1-1, 3.12 ERA) earned the win for FGCU after throwing five hitless innings in relief and giving up just two hits.

Even with its late-game woes recently, Florida does appear to be improving in spots.

The Gators had 11 hits on the afternoon, so they're making contact. The defense played an error-free game for the third straight game after committing six in Wednesday's loss to Georgia Southern.

It's just a matter of putting it all together in a game. Too many individual issues have cost Florida games this year.

"We had practice last Thursday, and that's all we did was defense because we've been struggling there," shortstop Richie Martin said. "We've definitely gotten better with our fielding and getting outs. I think we're getting closer, but we're just going through a tough stretch right now. We should be fine."

Whatever it is, Florida needs to figure it out quickly. The team is riding a four-game losing streak and needs to find a winning combination before SEC play starts creeping too much closer.

Take nothing away from FGCU, though. The Eagles thoroughly outplayed the Gators all weekend.

"I want to congratulate Florida Gulf Coast," O'Sullivan said. "They earned what they got this weekend. They played outstanding. They swung the bats very well, and they deserved what they got this weekend."

Florida will host North Florida at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium.

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