It was Missouri third baseman Shane Segovia’s shot at redemption. A base hit in the bottom of the 15th inning Saturday would make it all OK.
The ball he bobbled half-an-inning earlier that lead to Florida’s go-ahead run wouldn’t matter. Even his season-long struggles at the plate — his .149 batting average is the worst among Missouri’s starters — would be forgotten.
Just the fact that Segovia was at the plate showed he had his coach’s vote of confidence. The night before, Missouri head coach Tim Jamieson pinch-hit for Segovia in the bottom of the ninth, a decision that haunted him after his replacement, Jake Ivory, struck out looking.
“I second guessed it,” Jamieson said. “Even though Shane’s struggling, he probably was still the best option at that point.”
So down to his team’s final out of the nearly five-hour game with two runners on base, Jamieson gave Segovia his shot at redemption. When Florida pitcher Johnny Magliozzi threw a wild pitch past Segovia that advanced both runners into scoring position, it seemed everything was falling into place.
But with the count full and a fastball surely coming, all Segovia could muster was a ground ball to the second baseman. For the sixth time Saturday, Segovia was out, and the game was finally over. Florida 4, Missouri 3.
Segovia walked toward the Missouri dugout with his head down. Pitcher Eric Anderson, who was charged with the loss as a result of Segovia’s error, was waiting at the top of the steps to give Segovia a consolatory fist-bump. Segovia half-heartedly accepted the gesture, but the wounds were too fresh.
“Defensively each and every single one of us we approach it, each and every play, like it’s our last play,” Segovia said. “The guy that reached on that error, he ended up scoring. It’s just, yeah, definitely gonna be tough to swallow.”
He then continued down the steps and the moment his right cleat hit the dugout floor, he threw his helmet at the bench before walking out of view behind the dugout wall.
“He feels bad he made the error in that situation,” Jamieson said. “But you could look at every moment of the game, everything had an effect on us. It’s another play in the game.”
Missouri had a 3-1 lead when pitcher Keaton Steele allowed two runs in the seventh inning, his first inning of work. It was a lead Steele helped build himself, however, when he hit a two-run homerun in the first inning. Steele also went on to pitch six more scoreless innings and helped work his team out of several jams in extra innings.
The Tigers collectively sputtered offensively as well. After the Tigers scored three runs in the first two innings, the Gators’ bullpen held them scoreless for the final 13 innings.
The length of Saturday’s game will almost certainly put a strain on the teams’ pitching availability for Sunday’s series finale. Jamieson said he had planned to start Steele on Sunday, but would defer to Alec Rash after Steele threw 7 innings Saturday. The Gators went to their bullpen, which should have had a revolving door Saturday, eight times.
Sunday’s game is scheduled for noon at Taylor Stadium.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder