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Sunday March 2, 2014Illinois Defeats No. 23 Florida Baseball, 5-1

Gainesville, Fla.

Redshirt junior right-hander Drasen Johnson (2-0) threw 6.1 scoreless innings and Illinois (6-4) scored twice in the third and three times in the eighth inning to notch a 5-1 victory over No. 23 Florida (6-6) on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Fighting Illini captured all four games they played this weekend in the double round-robin event against the Gators and FGCU.

 

Illinois mounted a two-out rally in the third inning and used a two-run single by redshirt junior Reid Roper (2-for-5) with the bases full to take a 2-0 lead. Freshman Ryne Roper (2-for-3) had led off with a base-hit up the middle off of freshman A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) (1-1) and advanced to second on a balk with one down. After junior Michael Hurwitz was plunked with two out, junior David Kerian drew a walk to load the bases. Reid Roper stroked a single through the left side of the infield that gave the Illini two runs.

 

The Illini threatened again in the fourth by loading the bases with one down but were keep off the board by sophomore Eric Hanhold (Palm Harbor, Fla.). The right-hander relieved Puk (3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 K, 2 BB) with runners on the corners and hit redshirt freshman Zack Kolakowski to fill the bags but then had junior Will Krug fly out in foul territory and Hurwitz ground out to keep the Gators down by a pair of runs.

 

After freshman Ryan Larson (Orlando, Fla.) reached on a two-out throwing error in the fifth, sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) (2-for-5) extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a base-hit into right field. However, Johnson had junior Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) fly out to right field to end the frame.

 

Although freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-4) collected his third hit of the afternoon with a leadoff double in the sixth, the Gators were unable to score. A grounder by junior Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) pushed Alonso to third but he was cut down at the plate on a ground ball by junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas). Junior Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) followed with a base-hit into right field for runners on the corners before Johnson had junior Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) hit a comebacker to the mound that completed the frame.

 

Illinois extended its lead to 5-0 in the eighth with three runs on four hits. Sophomore Ryan Nagle (3-for-4) delivered an RBI single off of sophomore Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) that plated Reid Roper, who had a leadoff double. With the bases loaded, Kolakowski smashed a hard single off freshman Shaun Anderson (Coral Springs, Fla.) that enabled Nagle to score and a fielder’s choice by Krug brought home junior Casey Fletcher.

 

Martin delivered a sacrifice fly in the ninth to score freshman Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) with UF’s lone run. Sophomore Tyler Jay picked up his third save for Illinois by working the final 2.2 innings.

 

Postgame Quotes

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On today’s performance and this weekend overall:

“We have got to get better, it’s as simple as that. It’s obviously frustrating - you get runners on third (base) with less than two outs - you’ve got to drive them in. We didn’t execute and we’re not giving ourselves a chance.”

 

“We’re just in a rut right now. We’re not scoring very many runs and every pitch is so important, it’s taxing on your staff. The bottom line is we’ve got to stay positive, we’ve got to move this thing in the right direction and it’s our job as coaches to get them going. We’ve got to make better adjustments; all they did was slow the ball down all weekend so their runners would get on base. It’s not like we don’t know; our approach is just not changing quickly enough during the course of a game. We just have to stay positive and make some adjustments.”

 

Freshman first baseman Peter Alonso

On his batting performance today (3-4):

“I am just trying to put good swings on the ball and get on base to help my team win.”

 

Junior right-hander Ryan Harris

On this afternoon’s overall game:

“We have a lot of confidence in our offense. We are going to come back and we are going to hit. Pitching is pitching. You try to do your job and get the zero no matter what. We are going to come out Tuesday with some energy and play the game.”

 

 Series Between Gators & Illini

·         Illinois now leads the all-time series, 3-1, and improved to 2-1 in Gainesville.

 

For Starters

·         Lefty freshman A.J. Puk made his first career start on the mound for the Orange and Blue.

·         Peter Alonso made back-to-back starts at first base for the first time in his career.

·          It was junior Braden Mattson’s second consecutive and fourth start in the year behind the plate for the Gators.

·         Junior Taylor Gushue started as the designated hitter for the second game in a row and fourth time this season.

 

Sunday Highlights

·         Freshman Peter Alonso extended his hitting streak to five games with a single though the right side in the opening stanza to give the Gators their first hit of the game.

·         With a single to left center in the second, junior Josh Tobias has now gone back-to-back games with at least one hit.

·         Alonso recorded his fourth multi-hit game of the season with a single to right field in the fourth, his second of the ballgame. He finished 3-for-4.

·         Alonso also recorded his first career double, sending one down the right-field line in the sixth.

·         Sophomore Richie Martin kept his hitting streak alive with a single to left center in the fifth.

·         Going 2-for-5, Martin tallied his fifth multiple-hit game this season.

·         The Gators played errorless baseball for the fifth time this season.

 

From the Mound

·         In 3.1 innings of work, Puk notched three strikeouts, matching his career-high.

·         Sophomore RHP Eric Hanhold made his sixth appearance this season, relieving Puk with one out in the fourth inning.

·         Hanhold pitched a perfect fifth inning as he struck out three consecutive batters, matching his career-high in K.

·         Freshman lefty Kirby Snead came in the sixth to force a fly ball for his sixth appearance this season. He was followed by junior RHP Ryan Harris for his fifth outing this year.

·         Left-hander sophomore Danny Young came in for Harris in the eighth and made his team-leading seventh appearance of the season.

·         Young was followed by freshmen RHP Shaun Anderson and Dane Dunning.

 

Up Next

Florida will travel to Pensacola for a Tuesday night meeting with Southern Miss (6-6). The contest will be carried in Gainesville on Cox Communications channel 259 or 1259 HD on Cox Sports at 7:30 p.m. with Nick Belmonte and Todd Kalas 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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