Friday April 12, 2013Eighth-Inning Comeback Secures Series Win For Florida Baseball Over No. 8 South Carolina, 4-3
Freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) delivered a two-run, two-out single in the eighth as Florida (18-18/7-7 SEC) rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the inning to notch a 4-3 triumph over No. 8 South Carolina (27-9/8-6 SEC) on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. With their fourth-straight win, all over ranked opponents, the Gators reached the .500 mark for the first time since March 9 and clinched their second SEC series win of the season. In addition, the Orange and Blue has won three one-run outings in a row.
Sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (2-for-4) started UF’s decisive rally with a base-hit up the middle before senior Adam Westmoreland (4-1) jammed sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) on an infield fly. Sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) delivered a single into center field for two runners aboard with one down and senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) walked to load the bags. Sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) then narrowed the gap to 3-2 with an RBI grounder back to Westmoreland that brought home Turgeon. Bader moved the Gators in front by slicing a 1-1 offering into left field that brought across Shafer and Ramjit to give the hosts a 4-3 advantage.
Sophomore Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.), who had saved Thursday’s night’s 3-2 Gator win, replaced redshirt freshman Aaron Rhodes (Venice, Fla.) prior to the ninth and issued a leadoff walk to sophomore Tanner English on a 3-2 count. Junior Graham Saiko (2-for-4) moved his teammate into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and senior Chase Vergason flew out to center field for the second out. Senior LB Dantzler was walked intentionally and Magliozzi uncorked a wild pitch that moved both runners over. The right-hander rebounded to strike out junior Brison Celek swinging to end the contest and register his eighth save. Rhodes (1-0) claimed his first collegiate victory with a 1.1-inning stint in which he gave up two hits and a run.
“He [Harrison Bader] didn’t have the greatest at-bats before that last one,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Like I told the team at the end, ‘they only remember your last one,’ and that last one for him was a big one. It was a big, big hit for a freshman to come into that situation and buckle down while facing a really good pitcher, [Adam] Westmoreland. He put a really good swing on the ball and he put his other at-bats behind him. This game is funny in that way, it always seems to come right back to you, and he did a really great job.”
“I also thought the freshmen pitchers did a really nice job. Obviously, their [USC’s] approach was to swing early in the count and they did a nice job attacking Danny [Young], but he hung in there. I think one inning he had runners on second and third with nobody out, and he held them to one run. Then, Mike Vinson came in and did a nice job and kept it together. [Bobby] Poyner came in and got his two outs, Aaron Rhodes did a nice job and then Mags [Johnny Magliozzi] came in and did his thing. Overall, it was a really great game. It was a frustrating game offensively, because I thought we had some chances to put some runs on the board early, but we hung in there and the eighth inning was huge for us.”
South Carolina totaled three hits in the first inning against freshman left-hander Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) but came away empty-handed. Saiko led off the game with a single up the middle and Vergason hit into a 6-4-3 double play after Saiko was called for runner’s interference at second base. Following a single by Dantzler, Celek roped a double into the left-field corner. Young had freshman Max Schrock line out to right field to end the frame.
The Gators took advantage of a throwing error to break the ice in the bottom of the inning. Freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk from senior Jordan Montgomery and Turgeon advanced his teammate to third with a single into right center. With one down, Montgomery had an errant pickoff throw that enabled Martin to score and Turgeon to occupy third base. The left-hander struck out Shafer and had Ramjit pop up to hold the deficit at 1-0.
USC tied the game in the third on an RBI grounder by Schrock. Saiko began the inning with a single into left field and Vergason ripped a double to right field to put the Gamecocks in business with none out. Young struck out Dantzler and walked Celek intentionally to load the bases with one down. After Schrock drove in Saiko, Ramjit made a sprawling catch in foul territory on a pop-up by sophomore Joey Pankake to complete the frame.
Sophomore Connor Bright (3-for-4) provided the visitors with a 2-1 lead in the fourth on his third homer of the campaign into the left-field bleachers with one down.
Ramjit opened the Gator fourth with a base-hit into left field, ending the night for Montgomery (3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER) and bringing Westmoreland into the fray. Tobias moved Ramjit into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Bader was hit by a pitch for two Florida runners aboard. Westmoreland had sophomore Mike Fahrman (Tampa, Fla.) line out to right field and senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) ground out to preserve the 2-1 advantage.
After having Dantzler ground out to start the fifth, on which Ramjit made a tremendous stop, Young (4.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R) was replaced by freshman Mike Vinson (Miami, Fla.). The right-hander had Celek ground out before issuing a walk to Schrock with two down. Vinson had Pankake fly out to straightaway center field to finish the inning.
A throwing error by Vinson enabled Saiko to reach first to begin the seventh, prompting a call to the bullpen. Vergason greeted sophomore reliever Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) with a sacrifice bunt and a fly-out to center field by Dantzler pushed Saiko to third base. Rhodes induced an inning-ending fly ball to right field by Celek to strand the runner.
Westmoreland retired nine-consecutive Gators before Fahrman sliced a one-out single into left field and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Christian Dicks (Jacksonville, Fla.). A grounder by Dent moved Dicks to second base but Westmoreland had Martin hit a comebacker to the mound to finish the stanza.
Schrock earned a free pass to begin the eighth and stole second base for his eighth theft. A grounder by Pankake advanced him to third base and sophomore Grayson Greiner gave the Gamecocks a 3-1 lead with an RBI single through the left side of the drawn-in infield. Gushue threw out Greiner attempting to steal second base and Bright extended the inning with a two-out single into left field before Gushue gunned him down trying to steal.
The Gators and Gamecocks will wrap up the series tomorrow at 3 p.m., live on ESPN2 with Dave Neal and Kyle Peterson. It can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert, live audio and stats will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball program.
· The 4-3 victory for Florida moves it to 18-18 (.500) overall and 7-7 in SEC play for the season. It's the first time since March 9 that the Gators have been even.
· UF is now 4-7 this season in one-run games, with three-straight victories by one run.
· It is the team's 10th win against a ranked opponent this year, the most in the SEC.
· After coming back from a two-run deficit in the eighth inning, the Gators have won 11 games this year of the comeback variety.
· The win for Florida is only its second in 15 games when trailing after the seventh inning.
· Freshman Harrison Bader stole his team-leading eighth base of the season in the second inning.
· The Gators committed their first error in a game since game one of the series with Mississippi State, four games.
· Redshirt freshman Aaron Rhodes made his first appearance out of the bullpen since March 23rd against Vanderbilt, his second against an SEC opponent.
· Sophomore Taylor Gushue caught back-to-back stolen base attempts from South Carolina to end the eighth inning.
· After going 2-for-4 in the game, sophomore Casey Turgeon tallied his seventh two-hit game of the season; 10th multi-hit game of the year.
· With his two-RBI single in the eighth inning, Bader extended his current hit streak to four games.
· Sophomore Johnny Magliozzi dusted off his eighth save in nine opportunities for the season after coming into Friday's game in the ninth inning.