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Saturday March 30, 2013Crawford Hurls Gem As Florida Squares Series With No. 11 Ole Miss, 7-0

Gainesville, Fla.

Junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) twirled a two-hit shutout and was supported by a pair of three-run innings as Florida (12-16/3-5 SEC) evened its weekend series with No. 11 Ole Miss (23-5/4-4 SEC), 7-0, on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Crawford (1-4) set a season high with eight strikeouts and permitted just two singles in registering his second career complete game and second shutout, first since his 4-0 no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman on June 1 in the 2012 NCAA Gainesville Regional. The shutout was the first of the year for the Gators and ended a four-game losing streak.

 

“We needed that,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We needed to do a good job saving our bullpen for the deciding game tomorrow, and Jonathon Crawford was as sharp as he’s been all year long.”

 

“Whether a hit is 75 feet or 400 feet, they all count the same in the scorebook. We’ll take it; we’re battling. We’ve done a really great job the last two games and their starter yesterday [Bobby Wahl] struck out just one. We faced another outstanding starter today, [Mike] Mayers, and he struck out one. We’re battling with two strikes, we just need to do a better job with offensive counts, but with two strikes we’ve done a really good job this weekend.”

 

“I felt really comfortable,” Crawford said. “I had my fastball and slider going for me. I have always liked pitching in the warm weather but I don’t think it has an effect on how well I pitch. The weeks in-between starts I just worked a lot to find my rhythm.”

 

“I felt really well in the bullpen. The focus was there and everything was in rhythm. As a pitcher, it is always great to pitch with a lead. It takes a bunch of pressure off you. It’s good to go out there and attack their hitters.”

 

The Gators plated three runs on four hits against junior Mike Mayers (2-3) on the second inning, with an RBI single by sophomore Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.) (1-for-4, two RBI) and a two-run double by sophomore Mike Fahrman (Tampa, Fla.). Sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (1-for-4, two runs) had led off with an infield hit and senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) (3-for-4) reached on a bunt single with one down to put the Gators in business. Mitchell opened the scoring with a base-hit through the right side and Fahrman made his first career hit and RBI count with a double down the right-field line. Senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) sacrificed Fahrman to third base with a bunt and Mayers had sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) pop up to hold the Rebels’ deficit at 3-0.

 

Crawford retired the first nine Rebel hitters of the contest before senior Tanner Mathis began the fourth with a single into left field. Sophomore Auston Bousfield reached on a fielding error by Dent but then Crawford induced a 3-6-1 double play from junior Austin Anderson that pushed Mathis to third base. The right-hander struck out junior Stuart Turner to end the frame.

 

Crawford recorded the first two outs of the sixth before Mathis drew a walk and Bousfield punched a single into left field. Another free pass to Anderson filled the bags and Crawford struck out Turner for the second time to preserve the 3-0 lead for the Gators.

 

“It was a big pitch,” O’Sullivan said about the inning-ending strikeout. “It was one of those money pitches that decide the game. It was probably his best breaking ball of the season, to be honest with you.”

 

In the bottom of the stanza, Florida expanded its advantage to 6-0 with three runs on three hits in two UM errors. Freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (2-for-4) led off with his first career homer into the left-field bleachers to provide Florida with a 4-0 margin. Although sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) followed with a walk and was picked off, Shafer reached on a fielding error and moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt.  The Gators tacked on another run on an RBI single into center field by redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) that brought home Shafer. Ramjit singled through the left side to advance Powers to third and prompt a pitching change. Junior Jeremy Massie replaced Mayers (5.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER) and Mitchell collected his second RBI of the game with a grounder to first base to give the hosts a 6-0 cushion.

 

Gushue boosted UF’s lead to 7-0 with a two-out double down the left-field line in the seventh that scored Turgeon, who had drawn a one-out walk and moved to second on a grounder by Bader. The two-bagger was Gushue’s fourth of the campaign.

 

Florida enjoyed a 10-2 advantage in hits this afternoon, as seven of its nine starters found their way into the hit column. Nick Belmonte and Larry Vettel will be in the booth for Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m. on Sun Sports, Channel 48 and Channel 1048 (HD) in Gainesville. The game will be carried live on GatorVision and can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell.

 

Game Notes

·         Florida will play a decisive game three on Sunday for the sixth time in its seven weekend series.

·         Today’s 7-0 victory was the first shutout victory for the Gators this season.

·         Florida totaled 10 hits for the second-straight game.

·         Sophomore Mike Fahrman notched his first career hit Saturday afternoon, a double that scored two runs and gave Florida a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

·         Fahrman’s double was also the 50th extra-base hit for the Gators this season.

·         The seven runs scored in the game by UF was the most run support that Crawford has gotten in seven starts this season.

·         With his nine innings of work today, Crawford now has the four longest outings by a starting pitcher this season for the Gators.

·         The nine-inning stint by Crawford matched his career high set against Bethune-Cookman on June 1, 2012.

·         Crawford’s eight strikeouts was a season high for the junior.

·         Ole Miss went three-up and three-down against Crawford in six of his nine innings on Saturday.

·         Harrison Bader smashed his first home run of his career with a solo blast over the left field wall in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was the 17th home run for the Gators this season and first since hitting two against Vanderbilt on March 24.

·         UF is now 6-3 this season when hitting at least one homer.

·         With his double in the sixth, redshirt sophomore Zack Powers extended his hitting streak to four games.

·         Senior Vickash Ramjit’s 3-for-4 day was his third three-hit game of the season and seventh of his career.

·         Sophomore Taylor Gushue hit his fourth double of the season in the seventh inning, scoring sophomore Casey Turgeon and extending his hitting streak to four games.

·         The Gators scored three runs in the sixth inning. That makes 27 runs this season they’ve scored in the sixth frame, the most in any inning this season.

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