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Sunday March 11, 2012No. 1 Baseball Completes Sweep Of FGCU, 3-2, For 13th-Straight Victory

Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) snapped a 2-2 tie with a solo homer in the seventh inning as top-ranked Florida (15-1) edged Florida Gulf Coast (6-8), 3-2, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. With the three-game sweep of the Eagles, the Gators pushed their winning streak to 13 games, one shy of the school record accomplished twice (March 20-April 11, 2001, and Feb. 21-March 17, 2004). Florida’s 15-1 start through 16 games is the best in school history, as Dave Fuller’s 1952 club began 14-1-1.


FGCU senior starter Jason Forjet (0-2) kept Florida hitless for the first 4.1 innings before Gushue (2-for-3) doubled with one down in the fifth and freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) connected on a two-run shot to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. The Eagles knotted the game on a two-out RBI double in the sixth off Gator sophomore starter Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) before Gushue finalized the margin with his fourth dinger on a 1-2 count in the seventh. Sophomore Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) (1-0) did not allow any hits or runs over a career-high 2.1 innings, with a career-high four strikeouts, and junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) worked a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down his fifth save in as many chances to equal his total from last season.  


“They [FGCU] were outstanding this weekend,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I was really, really impressed with their starting pitching. Their starter today [Jason Forjet], once again, did an outstanding job. He [Forjet] executed time after time. I think through six innings, he got to a three-ball count twice. He was mixing all of his pitches, he was locating his pitches and he did a heck of a job against us.”


“I was obviously proud of our club for hanging in there. We had no hits through four innings, Casey Turgeon got the big two-run homer to give us a one-run lead and then Taylor Gushue had the big home run there in the seventh. I thought it was a well-played game by both sides and sometimes it comes down to once pitch here or one pitch there, but obviously Florida Gulf Coast is a heck of a ballclub and it was a great weekend.”


“That’s what good lineups do: they get contributions from top to bottom. Jonathon Crawford did a really nice job today and I was really pleased and proud of Daniel Gibson. He [Gibson] was outstanding today. He came in, kept it right there and that’s probably the best he’s thrown since he’s been a Gator. I’m really glad to be able to extend him out there for two-plus innings and Austin Maddox did his thing at the end.”


FGCU used a two-out RBI single by senior Ryan Gebhart off Crawford in the third inning to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Redshirt freshman Alex Diaz (2-for-3, two runs) had legged out an infield single with one down and moved into scoring position on a grounder by sophomore Brandon Bednar. Gebhart sliced a base-hit into left field that scored Diaz but was thrown out trying to get back to first base on a relay from senior left fielder Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to freshman third baseman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) to Gushue at first base.


In the bottom of the inning, Florida put its first runner aboard on a two-out fielding error, as FGCU freshman left fielder Brady Anderson dropped a fly ball by senior Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.). Soon after, Forjet had junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) fly out.


Crawford issued a one-out walk to sophomore Sean Dwyer in the fourth inning for the first free pass allowed by the Gator pitching staff in the series. The right-hander then had freshman Zack Tillery hit into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.


Forjet held Florida without a hit until Gushue doubled to right field with one down in the fifth for his fourth two-bagger of the year. Turgeon followed with his second homer of the season to right field to give the Gators a 2-1 lead. Tobias drew a walk and advanced to third on a two-out single up the middle by Fontana. With Fontana breaking for second base, Forjet got out of the jam by catching Tobias in a run-down between third and home to end the inning.


Diaz opened the sixth with a double to the gap in right center before Tobias made a great stop on a grounder by Bednar and threw over to first base for the initial out while holding the runner. After Crawford struck out Gebhart, sophomore Andrew Valencia tied the game with a double into center field that brought home Diaz and forced a pitching change. Over a career-high 5.2 innings, Crawford allowed five hits and two runs, with three strikeouts and a walk. Gibson had Dwyer ground out to keep the contest tied.    


A throwing error by Turgeon enabled FGCU junior Mike Reeves to reach with one out in the seventh. Gibson caught freshman Michael Suchy looking on strikes and had Anderson ground out to preserve the tie.


Gushue provided the Gators with a 3-2 advantage in the home part of the inning with a one-out homer to right field that was his fourth big fly of the campaign. Florida now has 25 homers in 16 games. Forjet permitted four hits and three runs over 6.1 innings, with seven strikeouts. Juniors RJ Brown (1.1 IP) and Danny Patrick (0.1 IP) provided scoreless and hitless relief for FGCU.


"We know that we have great bats in the line-up, and we trust that we know people are going to get it done,” Gushue said. “It's not that we would just hand it off to another person, but we do have so many good bats that somebody's going to put a good swing on the ball."


Gibson struck out the side in the eighth and Maddox set down the Eagles in order in the ninth, punctuated by a game-ending strikeout of Tillery. FGCU held a 5-4 edge in hits and each team committed one error.


The Gators return to action on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at McKethan Stadium in the first of three meetings with No. 8 Florida State (14-1). This Florida-Florida State baseball game is part of the Fresh from Florida Sunshine Showdown Series. Presented by Fresh from Florida, its goal is to remind all fans of the importance of buying home grown and harvested products from Florida. It supports our state’s farmers and fishermen, and our local economies.


Game Notes

·         Florida now has nine come-from-behind victories this season and is 8-0 when opponents score first.

·         Four of the five home runs in the series for the Gators came with one man on base.

·         Freshman Casey Turgeon’s previous round-tripper came against William & Mary on Feb. 25.

·         The Gators have hit at least two home runs in nine games this season.

·         Junior Austin Maddox has 21 strikeouts in 14.1 innings of scoreless ball.

·         Sophomore Daniel Gibson has not allowed any runs in eight innings this year.

·         UF was limited to a season-low four hits.  


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