Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Tough to Keep Gators Down; with 27 Comeback Wins, UF Is Confident, No Matter the Score

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Tough to Keep Gators Down; with 27 Comeback Wins, UF Is Confident, No Matter the Score

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - The atmosphere in the Florida dugout was the same last Sunday night as it was last Friday night.

The players were loose and confident, and coach Kevin O'Sullivan wore an easy smile.

The only way to tell that the Gators were winning big Sunday or were down by two runs entering the ninth inning Friday was by looking at the scoreboard. That's because the players were equally sure they were going to win both games.

"They certainly believe in themselves," O'Sullivan said. "... It's nice to know that you can come back in any ballgame."

The Gators (42-20) are playing host to Southern Miss (38-24) in a Super Regional this weekend because they have been so good at coming from behind. UF has rallied for a victory 27 times, including eight times in its last at-bat. Five of those have been walk-off victories, including last Friday's 8-7 victory over Bethune-Cookman in the Gators' opening game of the Gainesville Regional.

Former Bolles School standout Teddy Foster had the game-winning hit - a two-run single to right field - and he said he knew the Gators were going to win the game, despite trailing 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth.

"We've done it before," Foster said. "Nothing's shocking. You just get that feeling. You get the momentum going, and it happens again."

Florida has trailed in four of its eight last at-bat victories, including an 8-2 deficit against Alabama on March 28. First baseman Preston Tucker tripled to start the inning, then later delivered a two-out, two-run single that tied the score. Daniel Pigott delivered the winning run with a bunt single to cap the largest ninth-inning comeback in school history.

Seven different players delivered game-winning hits in the eight games. Mike Mooney is the only player with two. He had RBI singles against Louisville and South Florida.

That doesn't count all the game-winning hits the players have had during intrasquad scrimmages. O'Sullivan sets the scenario this way: sixth inning, one team ahead 3-2. The losing team runs.

"We ingrain that in them early on," he said. "It's one thing to teach it. The players have got to go out there and play it, and they've got to get it done. …

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