Saturday March 31, 2012No. 1 Baseball Evens Series At No. 16 Ole Miss, 9-4; O'Sullivan Notches 200th Win
No. 1 Florida (24-3/6-2 SEC) used a six-run eighth inning, highlighted by a tie-breaking, three-run homer by junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.), to even its weekend series at No. 16 Ole Miss (19-8/4-4 SEC), 9-4, in front of a season-high crowd of 10,064 fans on Saturday afternoon at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan picked up his 200th career victory to become the fastest Gator baseball coach to reach that plateau. The fifth-year skipper is now 200-85 (.702) and reached the mark in 20 fewer games than Joe Arnold, who was 434-244-2 (.640) in 11 seasons from 1984-94.
After being limited to a season-low three hits on Friday night, the Gators banged out 17 hits, including a season-high seven doubles, to match their highest output in a game this year. Senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (3-for-6, two runs), Ramjit (3-for-5, three RBI, two runs) and freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (3-for-5) each had three hits as eight of nine UF starters chipped in with at least one. Freshman Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) improved to 4-0 by having the Rebels leave the bases loaded in the seventh when they led by a run.
Trailing 3-2 entering the eighth, Florida erupted for six runs on six hits in the stanza by sending 10 batters to the plate. Junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off with a single into right field off junior Dylan Chavez (3-1) and junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) poked a double into left center for two Gators in scoring position. Turgeon came through with a game-tying single into center field that brought across Maddox. Ramjit moved the visitors in front with a three-run jack to left field, his third big fly of the season, all coming in SEC play. Freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) drew a walk from freshman reliever Sam Smith and Pigott collected his third hit of the day with an infield single before senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4) smoked an RBI double down the right-field line to score Shafer for a four-run lead. Freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (1-for-3, two RBI) expanded the Gators’ margin to 8-3 with a sacrifice fly into right field off junior reliever Tanner Bailey.
The Gators had used a two-out RBI single by junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) off senior R.J. Hively to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) had roped a two-out double down the left-field line and Johnson delivered a base-hit into right field to break the ice.
Johnson retired the first four Rebel hitters of the contest before sophomore Preston Overbey (2-for-3) had a one-out single to center field in the second. A groundout by junior Andrew Mistone on a hit-and-run pushed Overbey to third but Johnson had freshman Auston Bousfield fly out to right field.
With one out in the third, Pigott blooped a single into right field to extend his hitting streak to a season-high seven games and Tucker followed with a walk. Zunino advanced his teammates into scoring position with a grounder and Hively worked out of the jam by catching pinch hitter Gushue looking on strikes.
Sophomore Will Allen moved Ole Miss in front, 2-1, with a two-run homer in the fourth. Senior Matt Snyder reached on a one-out fielding error by Turgeon and Allen belted his first homer of the season into the left-field seats. Overbey ripped a double to straightaway center field and Johnson had Mistone and Bousfield each ground out.
Gushue tied the game at two runs apiece in the fifth with a two-out double to the right-field fence. Pigott had his second hit of the game with a one-out infield single and moved into scoring position with his first stolen base of the year as Tucker went down on the strikes for the second out. Zunino drew a walk for two Gators aboard and Gushue ended a 0-for-15 drought with his sixth two-bagger of the year to bring home Pigott with the equalizer. Hively stranded the runners in scoring position by having Maddox ground out to third base.
Junior Alex Yarbrough (2-for-5) helped the Rebels re-claim the lead in the bottom of the frame with a two-out RBI single. Senior Zach Kirksey had earned a free pass to start the inning and Johnson (4.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER) was replaced by junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.). Senior Blake Newalu laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Kirksey over and junior Tanner Mathis had a grounder that enabled Kirksey to reach third. Yarbrough sliced a 3-2 pitch through the right side of the infield to drive in Kirksey with the go-ahead run. Rodriguez plunked Snyder and senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) was called upon from the bullpen and had Allen ground out to keep the Gators down by one.
Turgeon and Ramjit had consecutive one-out infield singles in the sixth to prompt a pitching change. Chavez came in for Hively (5.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 8 K, 2 BB) and had pinch hitter Shafer fly out to center field and Pigott fly out to right field to preserve UM’s advantage.
Tucker began the seventh with a base-hit into right field but was later thrown out trying to take second base during Zunino’s at bat when the ball got past Allen. The Rebel catcher recovered and threw a perfect strike to Yarbrough covering the bag. Soon after, Chavez induced consecutive fly-outs by Zunino and Gushue to complete the frame.
A one-out pinch-hit single by sophomore Austin Anderson caused another pitching move, as sophomore Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) came in for Larson (1.2 IP, 1 H). The southpaw caught Mathis looking on strikes and Yarbrough roped a single into left field for two runners on base and Gibson hit Snyder to load the bases. Magliozzi replaced Gibson and had Allen fly out to hold the Gators’ deficit at a run.
After the Gators moved in front, Magliozzi hit Overbey to start the home part of the eighth inning and Maddox took over on the mound. Mistone singled through the left side and Maddox had freshman pinch hitter Sikes Orvis fly out to left field. A base-hit by Kirksey filled the bases with Rebels and the right-hander had Anderson foul out to Zunino and Mathis line out to right field to end the inning.
Shafer boosted the Gators’ lead to 9-3 in the ninth with a two-out RBI double that scored Ramjit, who had doubled to left field with two down. Snyder later connected on his fifth homer, second of the series, to finalize the margin at 9-4. Florida enjoyed a 17-9 advantage in hits this afternoon.
Sophomore righty Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (2-1, 3.95) will be on the hill in Sunday’s finale at 1:30 p.m. ET versus Ole Miss sophomore RHP Mike Mayers (2-2, 3.22).
· Florida registered its 14th come-from-behind victory of the season.
· The Gators are now 11-3 against ranked teams this year.
· The six-run eighth matched the most runs that Florida had scored in an inning this season (second inning vs. Florida Atlantic on March 6).
· The Gators also had 17 hits against the Owls on March 6.
· UF’s six hits in the eighth represented its most in a frame this year, done twice previously (last in the fifth inning against Vanderbilt on March 16).
· The seven doubles matched the most for the Orange and Blue under Coach O’Sullivan (vs. Tennessee on April 11, 2010).
· Senior Greg Larson made the 100th appearance of his career, becoming the fifth Gator pitcher to reach the century mark. He joined Connor Falkenbach (124), Darren O’Day (117), John Pricher (104) and Josh Fogg (103) in the group.