When Johnny Maggliozi took the mound in the bottom of the seventh with a 4-1 lead, he seemed on track for a win against Valparaiso in the NCAA tournament that would keep Florida alive for at least another day. Moments later, after an inning that saw nine Crusaders head to the plate as Maggliozzi and two other pitchers tried in vain to stop the damage, Florida had allowed the runs that would end its season.
The inning was really a series of calamities for Florida. After a single, a walk and another single to load the bases, Valparaiso would not get another hit. They didn't need one. Josh Tobias grabbed a ground ball, fumbled it, and then couldn't decide what to do with it -- allowing one run to score and leaving the bases loaded with nobody out. The pitcher at that point, Daniel Gibson, then walked the next two men to tie the game. Florida tried another pitching change, this time bringing Ryan Harris into the game, but it was basically too late. Harris got Chris Manning to ground into a fielder's choice, but that allowed the go-ahead run to score, and Florida never tied the game.
That makes Florida the first SEC team eliminated from the NCAA tournament, with at least two more teams in danger having already advanced (Alabama and Ole Miss) and two more teams (Arkansas and Texas A&M) in good position to do so as of this writing. And it brings an end to an up-and-down season for the Gators, who did things like sweep South Carolina and then lose a series to Georgia in a little more than a month during the regular season. Florida ends the season 29-30, their first losing season since 2007 and the first since Kevin O'Sullivan came to Gainesville.
O'Sullivan's team will be back, and likely dangerously so, next season. But very much like the game they played against Valparaiso, Florida in 2013 was sometimes good and sometimes mediocre, and sometimes both at the same time. On Saturday, that inconsistency brought an end to their season.