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Wednesday February 19, 2014Three-Run Eighth Lifts No. 20 Florida Baseball Past UNF, 8-7

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 20 Florida (4-1) plated three runs with two out in the eighth inning to turn a 7-5 deficit into an 8-7 victory over North Florida (2-2) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators trailed 4-0 in the second inning, grabbed a 5-4 advantage in the seventh and trailed by two runs entering the home part of the eighth before rallying for their third victory in a row.


After the Ospreys had scored three runs on three hits and an error in the top of the frame, junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) (2-for-4) had a one-out single off of junior Jamie Cardwell. Freshman John Sternagel (Rockledge, Fla.) drew a pinch-hit walk for a pair of runners aboard and senior Ryan McMahon (0-1) had junior Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) pop up for the second out. An infield single by freshman Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) (1-for-2, two runs) loaded the bases and a fielding error on a potential inning-ending grounder by sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) enabled Mattson and Sternagel to come home for a 7-7 stalemate. Junior Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (3-for-5, two RBI) ripped McMahon’s next offering up the middle to provide the winning margin.


Freshman Shaun Anderson (Coral Springs, Fla.) replaced junior Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (1-0) prior to the ninth for his first collegiate appearance and issued a leadoff single to freshman Alex Merritt. The righty had junior Alex Bacon pop up a bunt attempt and a base-hit by freshman Patrick Ervin (2-for-4) gave UNF two runners on with one down. Anderson then induced a game-ending 6-3 double play, the Gators’ fourth of the game, to nail down the save.


The Ospreys erupted for four runs in the second with two down, highlighted by a bases-clearing double by junior Trent Higginbothem (2-for-3). Junior James Abbatinozzi (2-for-3) singled with two down and stole second before sophomore Kyle Brooks (3-for-5, two runs) had an infield single and junior Drew Weeks walked to fill the bags. UNF had grabbed a 1-0 lead on a wild pitch by freshman Dane Dunning (Fleming Island, Fla.) and sophomore Donnie Dewees was intentionally walked to re-load the bases. Higginbothem greeted sophomore reliever Aaron Rhodes (Venice, Fla.) with a two-bagger into left center.


Florida countered with four runs on three hits in the third inning to tie the game. Reed drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a passed ball before Martin was hit by a pitch. Turgeon put the Gators on the board with an RBI single into right field and a base-hit by junior Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) loaded the bases and prompted a pitching change. Junior Jordan Nolan replaced junior Nick Miller (2.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R) and yielded a sacrifice fly by freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3) for a 4-2 margin. Turgeon narrowed UF’s deficit to a run by scoring on a wild pitch and a grounder by junior Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) pushed Gushue to third. Mattson followed with a game-tying single that caromed off of the first-base bag.


The Gators used a sacrifice fly by Gushue to grab a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning. Martin led off with a double into left center and Cardwell took over for Nolan (4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R). A grounder by Turgeon advanced Martin to third base and Gushue collected his team-leading seventh RBI to put the hosts on top before UNF tallied three runs in the eighth.


Postgame Quotes

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On tonight’s 8-7 victory over UNF:

“I think early in the season when you fall behind early like that - 4-0, it shows the character in your team. They stayed with it and they battled and we scored four (runs) in the bottom of the third to tie it up. We hung with it.”


“It was one of those games where you felt it was probably going to be like that, back and forth. We had some really good at-bats tonight and I think we played some good defense. We turned four double plays, we used eight pitchers and got a lot of work in. There were some good at-bats late in the game that may not show up in the box score. I thought John Sternagel coming off the bench, had a good at-bat with a walk (in the eighth inning).


“And, what can you say about Shaun Anderson? It was the first outing of his career; he attacked and showed some poise. I thought he threw the ball really well. I know it’s just one inning, but to be able to come in for his first collegiate outing and show poise like that and make pitches, I thought it was really impressive.”


Junior second baseman Casey Turgeon

On tonight’s performance by the Gators:

“We battled back tonight. Everyone contributed and it was a great team win.”


Sophomore right-hander Eric Hanhold

On feeling as a team in the dugout:

“There is a lot of positive energy. We just try to keep guys up and help win the game.”


Tight Series

·         The Gators improved to 8-6 all-time vs. the Ospreys, including an 8-3 mark in Gainesville.

·         Florida has taken the last two matchups over North Florida.

·         Eight of the 14 meetings have been decided by two runs or less.


For Starters

·         RHP Dane Dunning (1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 K) became the third Gator freshman starting pitcher in UF’s five games this season.

·         Dunning loaded the bases in the first before punching out North Florida’s Nick Karmeris to exit the inning unscathed.

·         Junior Zack Powers made his first career start in right field, as junior transfer Braden Mattson started at first base for the first time as a Gator.


Take Two

·         Sophomore RHP Aaron Rhodes made his second appearance of 2014, relieving Dunning in the second inning.  

·         Junior infielder Casey Turgeon collected two RBI tonight, putting the first run on the board in the third inning for Florida and the go-ahead run in the eighth to seal the Gator victory.

·         Freshman LHP A.J. Puk made his second appearance on the mound; his first coming in UF’s opening series vs. Maryland.

·         OF Justin Shafer collected the second hit of his junior campaign.

·         Sophomore right-hander Eric Hanhold took the mound in the fifth for the second time this season and caught Ospreys’ Alex Bacon looking on strikes.

·         Freshman southpaw Kirby Snead recorded one strikeout in his second appearance for the Orange and Blue.

·         Snagging the clean-up spot in the Gator lineup tonight, freshman Peter Alonso made his second start at third base and finished the night 2-for-3 with his first collegiate RBI.

·         Freshman John Sternagel pinch hit in the eighth and earned his first collegiate free pass in his second plate appearance.


 Eight Was Enough

·         The Gators used eight pitchers in tonight’s game, including the collegiate debut of freshman Shaun Anderson, who pocketed the save.

·         Junior right-hander Ryan Harris earned his first win of the season, the eighth of his career.


Up Next

The Gators travel to Coral Gables for a weekend series with No. 17 Miami (FL) (2-2) that starts on Friday night at Alex Rodriguez Park. All three games of the series will be carried on ESPN3 and can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell.


Follow the Gators

Live stats for each game are available on and fans can also receive updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball team.

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