Wednesday March 6, 2013Walk-Off Single By Connor Mitchell Lifts Florida Past Jacksonville, 7-6
Florida (7-7) rallied for two runs in the ninth, capped by a game-winning single by sophomore Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.), to notch a 7-6 victory over Jacksonville (4-9) to complete a mid-week sweep of the teams’ home-and-home series at McKethan Stadium on Wednesday night. The Gators have now won their last four games to reach the .500 mark.
With Florida down to its final three outs against senior Drew Woods (0-1) and trailing by a run, sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (3-for-4) led off with an infield single. Redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) was hit by a pitch for two Gators aboard and sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance his teammates into scoring position. The Dolphins elected to walk senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) (3-for-4, two runs) intentionally to face senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) with one down and Dent lofted a fly ball into left field. However, freshman Nathan Koslowski dropped it, bringing Shafer home with the tying run. After Powers was caught in a run-down for the second out, Mitchell came to the plate and ripped Woods’ initial pitch up the middle to score Ramjit with the winning run. It was also Mitchell’s first hit of the season and made a winner out of sophomore Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (2-1).
“I think this team needed a walk-off win,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ve had a tough go of it early in the season but I’m proud of the way we battled back; rebound runs were an issue again. We were up 3-0, and then gave up three runs in the top of the third. We scored one in the seventh and then gave up two runs, then we scored one in the eighth and turned around and gave up one in the ninth. Regardless, they battled and they did a nice job.”
“I’ve never had one before,” Mitchell said of his game-winning hit. “Not even in Little League or anything. I figured the first pitch was probably going to be a fastball and it might be the only one I see so I was swinging.”
Florida used an RBI grounder by Powers to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning against sophomore Alex McRae. Sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) led off by reaching on an error but was erased on a fielder’s choice by freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (1-for-5, two runs). Shafer advanced Bader to third with his team-leading eighth double and Powers broke the ice with a grounder to second that scored Bader.
The Gators added two more runs in the second inning on an RBI single by redshirt freshman Cory Reid (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and a sacrifice fly by Turgeon to build a 3-0 margin. Ramjit began the frame with a single into right field and sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) was hit by a pitch before freshman Brady Roberson (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) (2-for-3) moved his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Reid punched a base-hit into right field to drive in Ramjit and Turgeon followed with his second sacrifice fly of the year to plate Tobias.
Jacksonville answered with three runs on three hits in the third to even the game. Junior Scott Schaub (2-for-4) legged out an infield hit to start things off and freshman Kris Molter earned a free pass to put the Dolphins in business. Junior Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) struck out freshman Dylan Dillard but then walked junior Zach Houck (2-for-4) to load the bases with one down. Freshman Michael Babb (3-for-5) singled into right center to score Schaub but the Gators cut down Molter on a relay from Reid to Tobias to Gushue. Junior Drew Luther (2-for-4) squared the game with a two-run double into the right-field corner.
Freshman Mike Vinson (Miami, Fla.) replaced Gibson (3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 K, 2 BB) prior to the fourth and kept the Dolphins off the board. The Gators loaded the bases in their fourth at bat on a leadoff single by Ramjit, a one-out base-hit by Roberson and a two-out intentional walk to Turgeon. McRae kept the game tied by having Bader line out to right field.
Sophomore Jeff Tanner came in for McRae (4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER) prior to the Gators’ fifth and plunked Shafer. A grounder by Powers moved Shafer into scoring position and Ramjit’s third hit of the night left UF with runners on the corners and two down. A wild pitch enabled Ramjit to occupy second for two runners in scoring position but Tanner kept the contest tied by striking out Tobias.
Vinson worked two scoreless innings and walked junior Brady North to begin the sixth, prompting a pitching change. Freshman Jay Carmichael (Cape Coral, Fla.) fielded a bunt by sophomore Garrett Ruckel and threw out North at second base before fanning senior Ethan Loosen. Carmichael slipped on the mound and was charged with a balk with two down but had Schaub ground out to Turgeon to end the frame.
Bader started the Gators’ seventh with an infield single and Shafer followed with his second double of the night. Junior Will Flor took over for Tanner (2.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and struck out Powers. Gushue moved the hosts back in front with a bloop single into left field and Flor escaped further trouble by having Ramjit line into an inning-ending double play.
Babb began the eighth with a triple to right field and Luther was hit by a pitch, bringing in freshman left-hander Parker Danciu (Delray Beach, Fla.) for Carmichael (2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R). North tied the game with a double into left field and Harris replaced Danciu. An RBI grounder by Ruckel brought across Luther for a 5-4 lead.
Woods took over on the mound in the home part of the inning for Flor (1.0 IP, 1 H) and freshman pinch hitter Christian Dicks (Jacksonville, Fla.) reached on an error by Molter at second base and Roberson followed by reaching on an error by Schaub at third base. Moments later, Reid sacrificed Dicks and pinch runner Mitchell into scoring position with a bunt. Turgeon then tied the game at 5-5 with a grounder to second base that scored Dicks.
In the top of the ninth, Koslowski doubled with one down and Houck reached on a single before Harris came through with a strikeout of Babb. Luther put the Dolphins back on top with an RBI single up the middle. Florida held a 12-11 advantage in hits and did not commit any errors.
The Gators will host Big Ten favorite Indiana (6-2) in a three-game series beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. All three games will be available on GatorVision and can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Larry Vettel.
· Sophomore Connor Mitchell’s walk-off single was the first walk-off hit for the Gators since Mike Zunino doubled to defeat North Florida in the 11th inning on May 18, 2012.
· All four of the Gators’ victories in their four-game winning streak have been come-from-behind.
· Junior left-hander Daniel Gibson made his first career start and tied his career-best of four strikeouts, set against FGCU on March 11, 2012.
· Sophomore Casey Turgeon drew his first career start at shortstop, while sophomore Josh Tobias had his first career start at second base.
· Sophomore Justin Shafer collected two more doubles and was 3-for-4.
· In his team-leading ninth appearance, right-hander Ryan Harris worked two innings in which he gave up three hits and one run.
· Senior Vickash Ramjit extended his hitting streak to five games by going 3-for-4.
· The Gator pitching staff totaled a single-game high 11 strikeouts.
· Florida played error-free baseball for the sixth time this season.
· Redshirt sophomore Zack Powers was hit twice tonight.