Wednesday March 12, 2014Florida Baseball Downs Illinois State, 13-5
Florida (11-6) used a pair of three-run innings and a seven-run eighth to overpower Illinois State (9-5), 13-5, on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators notched season-bests in both runs (13) and hits (12), with eight of nine starters chipping in with at least one hit.
Junior Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (1-for-4, career-high-tying four RBI, two runs) clubbed his first career grand slam in the eighth and junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) (2-for-4) had a two-run shot in the fifth. The Gators extended their season-high winning streak to five games and will begin SEC play on Friday by hosting Arkansas (8-5).
The Gators plated three runs against Illinois State redshirt senior JD Learnard (1-2) in the third inning, highlighted by a two-run, two-out double by junior Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (2-for-4). Junior Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C) had led off with double, moved over on freshman Buddy Reed’s (Finksburg, Md.) team-leading sixth sacrifice bunt and scored on a passed ball. After sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) (2-for-4, three runs) singled up the middle and Turgeon was hit by a pitch, UF executed a double steal with two down and Gushue cleared the bases with his fifth double of the year.
Although the Redbirds loaded the bases with two down in the fourth, freshman righty Brett Morales (Tampa, Fla.) came though with his fifth strikeout of the night to preserve the 3-0 advantage.
Sophomore Sean Beesley (2-for-4) opened the fifth with a single, stole second and took third on a grounder by junior Dennis Colon. Sophomore left-hander Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) (2-0) replaced Morales (4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 K) and yielded an RBI single to sophomore Daniel Dwyer (3-for-5). After issuing a walk, Young worked out of further trouble with back-to-back strikeouts.
UF expanded its lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the frame on a two-run homer by Mattson into the left-field bleachers and an RBI single by freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.). The homer was the first for Mattson as a Gator.
Illinois State tallied four runs on five hits in the eighth inning to narrow the gap to 6-5 before sophomore Eric Hanhold (Palm Harbor, Fla.) induced an inning-ending fielder’s choice with the bases full. The Redbirds had filled the bags with none out against sophomore Aaron Rhodes (Venice, Fla.) and sophomore Jack Czeszewski greeted freshman reliever Kirby Snead (Alachua, Fla.) with an RBI single into left field that narrowed the gap to 6-2. Junior Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) issued a walk to redshirt Cody Voelker that plated a run and the righty rebounded with a strikeout. Beesley brought the Redbirds within 6-4 on a base-hit into right field and Harris fanned Colon for the second out before junior Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen. After Dwyer beat out an infield hit and Czeszewski came home for a 6-5 score, Hanhold had a ground ball by DeJong force Dwyer at second to complete the frame.
The Gators batted around in the home part of the stanza and exploded for a season-high seven runs in an inning with six hits. Junior Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) had a bunt RBI single, junior Mike Fahrman (Tampa, Fla.) drew a pinch-hit walk with the bases loaded, Martin contributed a run-scoring single and Turgeon closed the scoring with a grand slam that cleared the right-field fence.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
“The most important thing is getting the win and I thought Brett (Morales) gave us a really good start. He commanded the strike zone, he threw all of his three pitches for strikes and it was certainly a step in the right direction for him and more of like what we had seen early in the preseason.”
“I thought we swung the bats well tonight with 12 hits. I think we doubled our home run total for the year; we hit some balls hard. I think our offense is starting to come back around and it was a good overall team win. We got a chance to get a lot of different people in there and I was pleased with how we swung the bats.”
Junior second baseman Casey Turgeon
On his first career grand slam:
“I just tried to keep it simple as always. I put a good swing on it and got it up in the air, put a little backspin on it, and it did it. I didn’t think I hit it very well, but you never know what those flags are doing. It’s blowing pretty well.”
On if Florida’s offense is coming together and getting on track:
“The hitting was really good tonight. Pitching is always there; we have so many guys coming out of the pen. Our last guy is showing 92-93 mph, so that’s pretty good to see.”
Junior right fielder Braden Mattson
“We had a good start from Brett (Morales). It was nice to see the bats come around. I think it was our first double-digit run game of the year, so that’s cool. It’s definitely good to lead us into Arkansas this weekend. It was fun.”
On his first UF home run:
“That was good. Thank God it was windy out. I put a good swing on it and didn’t try to swing too hard like I did the last at bat.”
· With the win, Florida is now 3-0 all-time vs. Illinois State.
· The Gators now sport a five-game winning streak, their longest since they took eight in a row April 7-20, 2013.
· Putting up 13 runs against the Redbirds, the Gators set a season-high in runs scored, tallying a season-high runs in an inning with seven in the eighth. Thirteen runs is the most the UF team has scored since May 6, 2013, when they put up 22 against Florida A&M.
· Florida sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven runs on six hits and three walks in the eighth.
· Freshman right-hander Brett Morales made his third career start on the bump and matched a personal-best two K in just his first inning of work. Morales finished the game with a career-high five punch outs in a career-high 4.1 innings.
· Finishing the night 2-for-4, sophomore shortstop Richie Martin has reached base safely in 16 of the 17 games this season.
· With a leadoff double in the third, junior Josh Tobias now has two doubles, three extra-base hits, on the season and scored the first run for the Gators.
· The Gators pulled off a double steal in the third; it was the fifth theft of the season for Martin and the second for Turgeon. Both runs scored on junior Taylor Gushue’s double down the right field line.
· Martin had two steals on the night, totaling six in 2014.
· Sophomore LHP Danny Young made his team-high 11th appearance on the mound.
· Junior Mike Fahrman pinch hit for Reed in the bottom of the eighth frame to earn a free pass and record his first RBI of 2014.
· Eight of the nine Gator starters tallied a hit tonight.
· Junior Braden Mattson hit his first homer donning the Orange and Blue to lift the Gators to a 6-1 lead in the fifth.
· Junior Casey Turgeon notched the first grand slam of his career, his first homer since April 26, 2013 at Tennessee.
· The Gators’ last grand slam was Feb. 17, 2013, vs. Duke, when Zack Powers hit two and tallied 9 RBI.
The Gators will kick off their 30-game SEC schedule with the opener of a weekend series with Arkansas (8-5) at McKethan Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell and will be carried on Sun Sports with Nick Belmonte and Larry Vettel.
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