Sunday March 18, 2012No. 1 Baseball Completes Sweep Of Vanderbilt, 8-2, Boosts Winning Streak To 17 Games
Sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (2-1) tossed five shutout frames in his SEC debut and No. 1 Florida (19-1/3-0 SEC) matched its season high with three home runs in an 8-2 win over Vanderbilt (7-13/0-3 SEC) that completed a weekend sweep on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Gators stretched their winning streak to 17 games and have started league action 3-0 for the fourth time in five seasons under Kevin O’Sullivan.
Crawford was supported by a UF offense that produced solo homers from freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) in the second inning, senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) as part of a three-run third inning and freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (2-for-2) in the fifth frame. The Gators played flawless defense for the third day in a row.
“I thought our effort was really good today,” O’Sullivan said. “Sundays, typically as a coach, you have to motivate them a little bit more because it’s the third game of a series and you don’t want your team to be complacent after they’ve won the first two. Today, I thought they were outstanding. Jonathon [Crawford] was really, really good today. After every start, I keep saying the same thing, but it seems like he gets better and better each time he goes out there. I was really proud of the way he threw the ball today. Obviously, not using Paco [Steven Rodriguez] or [Austin] Maddox very much in the first two games, we were able to go to Paco in the sixth inning.”
“I threw strikes and used my defense,” Crawford said. “I walked a few guys, but I worked out of it and used my defense well. I’m learning to use my change-up and when to throw certain pitches in certain situations. My slider was really working today. That’s what kept me in most of the time.”
Vanderbilt had runners on the corners with one down in the first inning against Crawford but the right-hander kept the Commodores scoreless. Sophomore Tony Kemp had a one-out infield single, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Junior Mike Yastrzemski drew a walk for runners at first and third and Crawford induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play on a grounder by junior Anthony Gomez. It was the first double play turned by the Gators in the series.
Gushue opened the scoring with a two-out solo homer over the scoreboard overlooking right field in the second inning. Vanderbilt freshman Tyler Beede (0-3) had set down the first five hitters he faced before Gushue connected on a 1-2 pitch for his fifth round-tripper of the campaign.
The Gators tacked on three more runs in the third on a RBI grounder by junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.), a sacrifice fly by senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and a solo shot by Tucker to take a 4-0 lead. Turgeon led off with a single into right field and a base-hit by freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) into shallow right field resulted in runners on second and third when Turgeon was safe at third on the relay throw and Tobias took second. Fontana drove in Turgeon with a grounder to second base and Pigott plated Tobias with his fourth sac fly of the year. Tucker followed with a laser off the scoreboard for his team-leading eighth homer, the 49th dinger of his career and his second blast of the series.
Yastrzemski drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and Crawford responded by having Gomez hit into a 6-3 double play and sophomore Conrad Gregor strike out.
Junior Connor Harrell (2-for-3) was plunked to start the fifth, went to second on a grounder by freshman Vince Conde and swiped third when Crawford struck out senior Riley Reynolds. The righty stranded the runner by having sophomore Spencer Navin ground out to Fontana at shortstop. Over five shutout innings, Crawford totaled six strikeouts and allowed three hits, with two walks and a hit batter. Turgeon provided the Gators with a 5-0 lead in the home part of the inning with a lead-off homer to right field for his third jack.
“He [Crawford] threw a bunch of sliders for strikes and he threw a couple of really good change-ups, too,” O’Sullivan said. “He’s got a really good sink to his fastball. I think when he led one inning off with a walk, he threw a really good sinker, got a ground out into a double play to stop some momentum there. Jonathon’s using his stuff better and I was really pleased with how he threw the ball today.”
The Commodores got on the board in the sixth on an RBI double by Gomez off junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) that brought across Yastrzemski, who had a one-out single up the middle. A grounder by Gregor advanced Gomez to third base and Rodriguez fanned redshirt junior pinch hitter Jack Lupo to keep the Gators ahead by a 5-1 count.
Freshman Jared Miller replaced Beede (5.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 6 K) prior to UF’s sixth at bat and set down the Gators in order. Rodriguez recorded the first two outs of the seventh before freshman Will Cooper had a pinch-hit single into left field and Navin followed with a base-hit through the left side. However, Tucker made a great sliding catch on a liner by Kemp to preserve Florida’s four-run lead.
The Gators had a pair of runners aboard in the seventh but could not pad their lead. Freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) reached on a one-out infield single and took second on a wild pitch before a walk to Turgeon prompted a pitching change. Redshirt junior Will Clinard took over for Miller (1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB), picked Shafer off second base and had Tobias fly out to right field.
Rodriguez (2.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R) had Yastrzemski ground out to begin the eighth and junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) came in and had Gomez ground out and Gregor fly out.
Florida added three runs in the eighth to build an 8-1 advantage. Fontana earned a free pass and was safe at second base on a fielder’s choice by Pigott before Tucker walked to load the bags with none out. Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) lofted his fourth sacrifice fly into straightaway center field to score Fontana and sophomore Steven Rice came in for Clinard (1.0 IP, 0 H, 3 R). Junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) greeted the reliever with a base-knock into center field and Gushue had his first career sacrifice fly to give the hosts a seven-run lead.
In the ninth, Harrell singled up the middle with one down, stole second base uncontested and scored on a two-out single by redshirt junior Andrew Harris. The run ended a stretch of 20-consecutive scoreless appearances by Maddox dating back to April 15, 2011, at Georgia. Florida will complete its 10-game home-stand on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when Samford (13-7/4-2 SoCon) visits McKethan Stadium.
· The Gators have captured their last seven contests versus the Commodores and have emerged victorious in 10 of the last 13 meetings.
· Kevin O’Sullivan improved to 15-5 (.750) against Vanderbilt, 8-1 (.889) at McKethan Stadium.
· The Gators notched their first sweep of the Commodores since 2008.
· Florida had three homers in a game for the third time this year, also at Miami (Fla.) on March 3 and against Florida Atlantic on March 6.
· Senior Preston Tucker now has 49 career homers, including 23 with no runners aboard.
· Senior Daniel Pigott and junior Mike Zunino each had his fourth sacrifice fly to tie freshman Justin Shafer for the team lead.
· The three-game series drew 12,593 fans to the park.