Florida baseball continues rise; 6-2 in last eight

By Adam Silverstein
April 30, 2013

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

No. 19 Florida Gators baseball (25-20, 12-9 SEC) has continued its upward momentum, going 6-2 (with two series victories) since it swept South Carolina in mid-April. Over the last two weeks, Florida has gone 3-1 both at home and on the road.

Following a big three-game sweep over a Southeastern Conference powerhouse like No. 15 USC, many teams might suffer a letdown game against a non-conference foe on the road…but not the Gators. Florida had plenty of motivation to pick up a revenge victory in Fort Myers, FL against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles after having been swept by FGCU in Gainesville, FL back in February.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner tossed 5.1 innings, a career-high, allowing only one run in UF’s 5-3 victory on April 16 before sophomore closer Johnny Magliozzi got the job done with a five-out save. Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (2/4, 2 RBI, R, BB) smacked a double to help fuel a three-run seventh inning. Redshirt senior first baseman Vickash Ramjit (2/4, RBI) and sophomore outfielder Justin Shafer (2/5, R) also contributed to the hit parade.

Junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford overcame a rough beginning to his Friday start on April 19 to earn his third win in an 8-6 victory over the Missouri Tigers. Crawford allowed four hits in a four-run first but settled down for the next 4.2 innings and left the game with a 6-4 lead. The Gators’ offense was not done, however, scoring two more runs on four hits to spot the relievers four runs. Magliozzi picked up another five-out save, securing a much-needed series-opening win on the road for Florida.

The Gators clinched the series with their first extra-innings win of the season, edging the Tigers 4-3 in 15 innings that Saturday. After a disappointing start for freshman southpaw Danny Young (2.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, BB, K), UF’s bullpen kept the home team off the scoreboard for more than 11 innings. Though the bullpen cruised, Florida’s bats only manage to tie Missouri 3-3. Finally, in the top of the 15th, sophomore second baseman Casey Turgeon (3/8, 3 RBI) singled to score freshman outfielder Harrison Bader (2/7, 2 R) and hand UF its first lead of the game. Magliozzi picked up his 11th save despite allowing the go-ahead and winning runs to reach scoring position. Poyner, in a two-pitch outing, earned the win.

The Tigers snapped the Gators’ eight-game winning streak to avoid being swept at home with an 8-2 victory in the series finale. Missouri tagged each of Florida’s four hurlers for two earned runs with freshman RHP Tucker Simpson tossing just 2.2 innings and receiving the loss. Gushue (3/4, HR, RBI, R) was the only standout on offense for UF that Sunday.

When the Gators returned home, they extended a 12-game winning streak against the South Florida Bulls with an onslaught of offense on its way to a 12-1 victory on April 23. Sophomore center fielder Richie Martin (2/5, 4 RBI, 2 R) led the way and collected three of his RBI with a bases-loaded triple in the sixth inning. Poyner’s outing lasted just 3.1 innings though he allowed only one run; Young, despite pitching just 0.1 inning, registered the victory.

Florida came away from its weekend showdown against the Tennessee Volunteers with just two wins but nevertheless its third-straight SEC series victory

The underclassmen shined for the Gators on Friday as the youngsters combined for three home runs in a 7-2 win. Gushue (2/4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), Shafer (2/4, HR, 2 RBI, R) and Turgeon (2/3, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) all went yard in a rare display of power for Florida. Entering the game, the Gators had hit just 20 homers in their previous 42 games.

Young (5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, K) had a season-long start but had his outing cut short when a line drive off a UT batter hit him straight in the mouth. He “only” cut his lip and was forced to leave the game but received stitches afterward and is expected to be fine.

For the second weekend in a row, Florida needed more than nine innings to clinch an SEC series. Crawford (4.2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 K) and Gibson (2.1 IP, ER, BB, K) kept Tennessee off the board for seven innings on Saturday, but a leadoff walk issued by Gibson in the eighth turned into the Volunteers’ first run. In the ninth, Magliozzi (2.1 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 3 K) coughed up a one-out walk before allowing back-to-back singles that squandered a save opportunity and allowed Tennessee to tie things up at 2-2.

In the 10th inning, Turgeon singled off of UT reliever Trevor Bettencourt and moved to third on a Gushue (2/4, RBI) double. Shafer (0/4 BB) was intentionally walked to load the bases for redshirt sophomore designated hitter Zack Powers (1/5, RBI), and Turgeon (2/4, 2 R, BB) came home on Powers’s fielder’s choice to short to complete a walk-off 3-2 win for UF.

The Gators’ four-game homestand closed on a sour note as Florida was unable to capture a sweep of Volunteers. UT’s ace, Zack Godley, threw a complete game in his team’s 4-2 series-ending victory. UF managed two runs in the first inning off of a Shafer RBI triple followed by an RBI single by Ramjit but were shut down for the remaining eight frames. In his first-ever SEC start, Poyner (5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, K) matched a career-long with his outing. Despite picking up the loss, he likely made a strong enough case to remain in the weekend rotation going forward.

Though the bats are not always consistent, the Gators are winning more often than not and continuing to climber further north of the .500 mark. It may not seem like pitching is a team strength when Crawford is the only thrower with a quality start, but head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is getting just enough out of starters like Young and Poyner before turning to his top three relievers. While Florida can take pride in winning both SEC series since the South Carolina sweep, the team knows the competition is about to get turned up a notch when UF travels to face No. 2 LSU (39-5, 16-4 SEC) for a Thursday-Saturday series this weekend.

Photo Credit: Dave Martin/Associated Press

One Comment

  1. Joe says:

    LSU Will be a good test for this club. Coming away from Baton Rouge with even 1 win would be huge. After that there is no reason why we can’t win them all considering we will be facing Fla A&M (ranked 281), FAU (ranked 36), and the SEC cellar dwellers, Auburn (ranked 37) and Georgia (ranked 146). I know its a long shot but if we finish on a roll and have a real good outing in Hoover we just might get to host a regional.

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