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Friday February 21, 2014No. 17 Miami Takes Series Opener Over No. 20 Florida Baseball, 6-4

Coral Gables, Fla.

No. 20 Florida (4-2) baseball put up three runs in the first inning and added a fourth in the eighth, but the Gators couldn’t hold off No. 17 Miami (3-2) as the Canes took the opening game of the three-game set, 6-4, at Alex Rodriguez Park Friday in Coral Gables.

 

Florida junior catcher Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) put up a career-best performance, going a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with two doubles, one RBI and two runs scored. The catcher’s four hits contributed to the Gators’ 10 overall, the second double-digit hit effort for the squad this season.

 

The Gators wasted no time getting on the board in the top of the first, putting up a three spot on four hits, started by a sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) (1-for-5, one run) leadoff infield single. Martin advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and scored on a Gushue single to left field for the first Florida run. UF added to the lead with back-to-back hits from juniors Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) (1-for-4, one run, one RBI) and Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (1-for-3, one RBI) to push the lead to 3-0, UF’s highest first-inning output this season.

 

Florida starting pitcher junior Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) sat down the side in the bottom of the first, but after a scoreless second frame for Florida, Miami shortstop Alex Hernandez (3-for-4, two RBI) sent a two-run double to left field to put the Canes on the board for a 3-2 ballgame after two. With two outs in the third, UM’s David Thompson scored on a Poyner wild pitch to knot the game 3-3, followed by a Willie Abreu solo home run that gave Miami a 4-3 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

 

The Hurricanes tacked on one run in the fifth frame on a Dale Carey home run for the 5-3 advantage, while Garrett Kennedy sent one out of the park in the sixth for the 6-3 Miami lead.

 

Gator freshmen Ryan Larson (Orlando, Fla.) (2-for-4) and Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) led off the top of the seventh with back-to-back infield singles for Florida, but a double play and a ground out halted Florida’s late-game momentum.

 

Gushue struck again for the Orange and Blue in the top of the eighth with a leadoff double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) RBI – his second run of the game – to bring the Gators within two, 6-4.

 

With one down in the top of the ninth and facing Miami relief hurler Bryan Garcia, Larson kept the Florida fight alive, poking a single through the left side, but was left stranded as Garcia sealed the deal for the Hurricanes in the series opener with a strikeout and lineout.

 

Postgame Quotes

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan

 Opening statement

“We scored three in the first, but we just have to get a better start out of our starting pitcher. The first two runs they scored were two swinging bunts and then we left a changeup up in the zone on a 1-0 count and [UM’s Alex] Hernandez hit it down the left field line and that’s two runs there. All the runs we could have controlled, but it was just one of those nights where Miami did a good job at the plate and we just didn’t make the pitches when we needed to. I thought [UM’s LHP] Chris Diaz was outstanding.”

 

On Taylor Gushue’s offensive performance

“He swung the bat really well tonight. That was probably his best offensive night this year. He saw the ball really well.”

      

First-Inning Frenzy

·         Florida’s three first-inning runs marked the most for the Orange and Blue in the first stanza this season, the third time UF has pushed runs across in the initial inning (one each vs. Maryland 2/16 & 2/18).

·         Junior Taylor Gushue plated his team-leading eighth RBI of the season for Florida’s first run of the tilt, pushing sophomore Richie Martin across home from second.

·         Junior Braden Mattson connected for his first double as a Gator in the top of the first inning to score Gushue, while junior Justin Shafer connected for his third hit of the season to plate Mattson for UF’s third run of the frame.

 

Six Straight

·         Gushue and Martin both extended their season hit streaks to six-straight games tonight.

·         Gushue went a perfect 4-for-4 with a new career-high for hits in a single game, while ripping a season-best two doubles. Gushue knocked in one of UF’s four runs and scored two others.

·         Junior transfer Braden Mattson also extended his early hit streak as a Gator to five games.

 

From the Mound

·         Freshman left-hander Kirby Snead punched out all three batters he faced in relief tonight.

·         Freshman righty Shaun Anderson threw a personal-best 2.2 innings against Miami and recorded his first strikeout donning the Orange and Blue.

Up Next

The Gators continue the weekend three-game set with No. 17 Miami (FL) (3-2) Saturday with first pitch slated for 7 p.m. from 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 GatorZone.com and fans can also receive updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball team.

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