Chins up, fellas. Great f*ckin' season.
Sometimes, a team just has your number. For the 2011 Vanderbilt Commodores, that team was Florida.
In the end, Sonny Gray's eighth inning was one too many, and Vanderbilt's rally was no match for Florida's persistence. The Gators posted their fifth win over Vanderbilt in 2011 to advance to the College World Series Final, 6-4. Vanderbilt's season ended with the loss.
The loss was Vanderbilt's fifth in six games against the Gators. Despite limiting Florida's potent offense throughout the season, the team's inability to pull through at the plate against their SEC Rivals eventually cost them their chance to play for a national title. After scoring seven runs per game in the regular season, the Commodores managed under three runs per contest against UF.
Vandy got on the board first behind Aaron Westlake's home run in the first inning. However, the team couldn't hold Florida's bats back for long. The team's ninth batter, Cody Dent, was especially difficult for starter Sonny Gray to handle. Despite batting just .190 coming into the game, Dent played a role in UF's scoring throughout the day. His leadoff triple would give the Gators their first run of the game, and his key walks in the fourth and sixth innings led to three more Florida runs.
Vanderbilt struck back in the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game. Connor Harrell's RBI single made it 4-2 in the seventh, then a bases loaded walk to Tony Kemp brought the 'Dores within a run. Vandy threatened again in the eighth, loading the bases once more, but only got one run on a Conrad Gregor hit-by-pitch after Nolan Fontana's diving grab robbed Harrell of two more RBI.
The game was tied with nine outs to go, but Florida had an answer. Working against a tired Gray, the Gators loaded the bases after a single and two botched bunts from the Commodores. Jason Esposito's knuckleball throw to first failed to get Cody Dent at first, and one batter later Sonny Gray couldn't barehand a bunt to third, putting the 'Dores in a bind. Will Clinard came on in relief and got a huge pop-out for the first out in the eighth, but Tony Kemp couldn't track down Preston Tucker's deep fly to left field, allowing a run to score. Mike Zunino struck out to follow, but the wild third strike got away from Curt Casali, allowing the Gators to take a 6-4 lead.
The Commodores had one final chance to extend their season in the ninth, but it wasn't to be. Tony Kemp fouled out, and Anthony Gomez grounded out before Aaron Westlake doubled to bring the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately, Curt Casali's line drive died 30 feet short of tying the game, sending the 'Dores back to Nashville.