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Friday May 9, 2014 Fulmer stops Gators' quest to clinch East outright; next chance on deck Saturday

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First baseman Pete Alonso and his UF teammates had little success against Carson Fulmer on Friday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators arrived at McKethan Stadium on Friday night with an opportunity to clinch outright the SEC East title and win their 13th consecutive conference game.

And then one by one they stepped into the batter's box against Vanderbilt starter Carson Fulmer.

The way Fulmer was pitching the '27 Yankees might have had trouble hitting the sophomore right-hander from Lakeland.

"We knew coming in it was going to be a low-scoring game,'' Gators third baseman John Sternagel said.

Armed with a fastball in the mid-90s and an assortment of off-speed pitches, Fulmer allowed only one Florida player to reach second base -- Harrison Bader on an infield single and throwing error by Fulmer in the ninth.

That was the only bad delivery Fulmer made all night.

Fulmer allowed four hits, walked two and struck out eight in his fourth start since Commodores coach Tim Corbin moved Fulmer from closer into the weekend rotation.

Nice move, coach.

Fulmer has won all four starts and allowed zero runs in 28 innings.

And for one night at least, he delayed the Gators' celebration of an outright division crown. Florida leads the Commodores by four games with four games left.

Vanderbilt scored the only runs of the game in the third inning with the help of a throwing error by shortstop Richie Martin and two walks.

"That fifth inning was frustrating, but I don't know if it would have made much of a difference the way he was throwing against us,'' Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan. "He didn't let up. Hats off to him. What are you going to do? We just ran into a really good pitcher. It happens."

The same scenario happened to Vanderbilt on Thursday night when Gators starter Logan Shore pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings and closer Bobby Poyner polished off a 1-0 win that clinched a share of the SEC East title.

As the Commodores walked off Perry Field late Friday, Fulmer greeted several Vanderbilt fans in the stands behind home plate.

He gave a few leaping high-fives -- the stands are above field level -- as he departed.

It was his night.

The Gators hope Saturday is their day. The rubber game of the three-game series starts at noon.

Florida starter Karsten Whitson will try to turn the table back in Florida's favor.

And give the Gators something to celebrate.

"Tomorrow is going to be the match,'' Sternagel said. "Knowing that it's squared up and we haven't been square in a while, we definitely, definitely want to take that one to our house."

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