The Florida Gators and Texas A&M Aggies baseball teams squared off this past weekend in a three-game series, and the deciding matchup came down to a twitch of a knee.
During the rubber match on Sunday, the score was tied at 2 in the bottom of the ninth inning when Florida reliever Brandon Neely committed a fateful balk with runners on second and third, giving the Aggies the 3-2 win. The costly mistake is being referred to as the rare "balk-off" in College Station.
Aggies Send Florida Home on 'Balk-Off'
GAME, SERIES, AGGIES pic.twitter.com/OunrsaKsuq
— Texas A&M Baseball (@AggieBaseball) May 7, 2023
To begin the bottom of the ninth inning, TAMU's Ryan Targac was hit by a pitch, sending him to first base, and Travis Chestnut subbed as a pinch runner. Austin Bost then hit a single to right center, which allowed the speedy Chestnut to advance to third. Bost then found himself on second, with Chestnut on third and Kasen Wells up to the plate.
At this point, there were no outs in the inning — already not good for the Gators — but Wells had an 0-2 count on him.
What would you have predicted to happen next? A strikeout? A single to drive in the winning run? A three-run shot to right field? Nope. None of the above.
Instead, Neely got into his stance, and — right before he threw the ball — moved his left left ever so slightly. And, well, in baseball, you can't do that. It resulted in a balk being called and the game being over.
That "slight" twitch of the knee is EVERYTHING to a base runner. That's Balky McBalk-Face 10/10
— Texas Aggie Meltdown Show (@MeltdownAgs) May 8, 2023
So, with two men on, the balk allowed each runner to advance one base — which allowed Chestnut to go from third to home and the Aggies to win the game 3-2 and steal the rubber match, an upset in college baseball considering Florida entered the series the No. 4 team in the country against the unranked Aggies.
This is certainly a game Neely won't ever forget.
The Gators snagged a 6-5 victory on Friday, and the Aggies responded on Saturday by winning 15-2 before Sunday's "balk-off." With SEC play coming to a close in the coming weeks, it's better to get these mistakes out of the way now.
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