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Saturday March 29, 2014Florida Baseball Sweeps Doubleheader Against No. 4 LSU, 6-2

Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman right-hander Logan Shore (Coon Rapids, Minn.) (2-1) carried a shutout into the eighth inning as Florida (18-9/5-3 SEC) completed a doubleheader sweep of No. 4 LSU (20-7-1/3-4-1 SEC) with a 6-2 win on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators had claimed a 2-1 victory in the opener on a two-out homer in the ninth inning by junior Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.).

 

UF used a pair of three-run outbursts in the fifth and sixth inning to boost its winning streak to three games, all over top-5 opponents (No. 1 Florida State and two against No. 4 LSU). With the Gators up 3-0, junior Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) increased the margin to six runs with a towering three-run homer in the sixth. By taking both ends of the double-dip today, the Orange and Blue notched its first series victory over the Tigers since 2011. Shore (8.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R) was within one out of a complete game before junior Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) recorded the game’s final out to collect his second save.

 

Aided by a pair of errors with the bases loaded, the Gators broke through for three runs in the fifth inning against freshman left-hander Jared Poche’ (5-2) to seize a 3-0 advantage. Gushue drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed over by junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas). After Shafer was walked intentionally, freshman John Sternagel (Rockledge, Fla.) singled through the left side to fill the sacks. A grounder by freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) was mishandled by freshman second baseman Kramer Robertson, allowing Gushue to score, and a throwing error on the play enabled Shafer to come home. Freshman Ryan Larson (Orlando, Fla.) extended Florida’s lead to three runs with a sacrifice fly.

 

The following inning, Gushue blasted a three-run homer into the last row of the left-field bleachers to increase UF’s advantage to 6-0. Sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a bunt single by sophomore Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.). Gushue connected on his team-leading third homer to end the night for Poche’ (5.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K).

 

Junior Conner Hale (2-for-4) ended a stretch of 14 consecutive batters retired by Shore with a leadoff single in the eighth inning and the Tigers used back-to-back RBI grounders by senior Christian Ibarra and Robertson to finalize the 6-2 margin.

 

Postgame Quotes

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On righty starter Eric Hanhold’s performance in game one:

“I thought Eric was really, really good; he settled in well. I really thought he located; this is the best he’s located all year and he did a heck of a job. I mean, he matched (LSU’s starter pitcher Aaron) Nola pitch-for-pitch and obviously, he’s one of the best in the country. We kept it close there until the end and (Justin) Shafer was the hero (walk-off home run to win the game); he ran into one there in the bottom of the ninth inning. (I’m) really proud of how we battled in the first game against one of the best pitchers in the country.”

 

On how the Gators approached the game against LSU’s Aaron Nola:

“Well, he throws strikes and if you start guessing against a guy like Nola, you’re going to be in trouble. The bottom line is that we tried to stay on his fastball, obviously he’ll throw it 70% of the time; it’s a good one. But, if you start thinking about his breaking ball and his changeup, then it’s going to be a long night. He locates and throws to both sides of the plate and the ball’s got heavy sink and you look up at the end of the year and he’ll go in the top-10, 15 picks in the (MLB) Draft. It takes a special effort on the mound to hold LSU down because if you give up three or four (runs), the chance of winning against a guy like Nola aren’t very good.”

 

On the team’s performance in the second game to clinch the series:

“He (Florida’s starter Logan Shore) did a nice job; he was throwing his breaking ball on the inner half to righties and throwing his fastball away so he was expanding the plate on both sides. He’s throwing the ball really well and we’re just fortunate to where we have a couple of guys on and (Taylor) Gushue ran into a ball.”

 

“I thought Casey’s (Turgeon) at-bats all day were good and I thought Richie (Martin) had a really good day at the plate. (Harrison) Bader, (Taylor) Gushue and (John) Sternagel saw the ball well. I was really pleased. We pitched really well all day long, we played great defense - we didn’t make an error all day long, which is really hard to do in 18 innings. But, that’s what you have to do against a team like LSU; you just can’t make mistakes. Overall, if you stay focused and you execute and have a chance to take two, then it’s a heck of a day.”

 

Junior outfielder Justin Shafer

On hitting a game-winning home run against Aaron Nola to end the first game: 

“It was great. Obviously, (Aaron) Nola is a great pitcher so for any team to score any runs on him has been a struggle all year. We just tried to put good swings on the ball and grind out some runs.”

 

On preparing for the Gators’ first doubleheader of the season:

“That’s what we do in the fall with Coach Paul (Chandler). All of the running and lifting and the grind that we put in there is what gets our bodies ready for days like this because you never know when it might happen.”

 

On the pitching performance in today’s games:

“(Logan) Shore and (Eric) Hanhold were both really good, got ahead and threw all of their pitches for strikes during both games. We couldn’t have asked for anything more out of the starting pitchers today. We are just playing with confidence right now. The pitching has been keeping us in it for so long, and now we are starting to swing the bats a little bit better. Hopefully, we can keep helping them out more.”

 

Freshman right-hander Logan Shore

On today’s effort by the Gators:

“(Eric) Hanhold went out there and pitched really well so we had momentum going into the second game. My arm was feeling good and I just went out there and competed and came out on top. You just get into a rhythm and the team puts up runs and everyone is hitting the ball at somebody.”

 

Sophomore right-hander Eric Hanhold

On throwing against LSU’s Aaron Nola in today’s opener:

“My focus was to locate the ball and keep us in the game. I didn’t want to give up a lot of runs and I knew I had to come strong today.”

 

On the performance of the Gators’ bullpen:

“We challenge each other all the time. There’s a lot of talk going on in the bullpen, but we keep it friendly. We just come out here and try and compete.”

 

On Justin Shafer’s home run:

“That was huge. To come off that and start game two right after, it was a big momentum shift.”

 

Junior catcher Taylor Gushue

On getting two wins today:

“It feels good to get two wins today and it’s given us a lot of confidence. It’s going to be a great game tomorrow too.”

 

On the pitching today:

“I feel like we matched them every single pitch. Their pitchers did a great job. Our pitchers kept the ball down and did a really good job of attacking the (strike) zone. They were just amazing tonight. These two wins are all on them because we really wouldn’t be where we are right now without them.”

 

On his home run tonight:

“That was the first no-doubter I’ve hit here. I enjoyed it, and I was excited. It was nice.”

 

Game 2 Nuggets

·         Junior Casey Turgeon delivered the Gators’ first hit with a single to start the fourth inning, raising his hitting streak to a season-high six games.

·         Junior Taylor Gushue’s last home run before tonight came against UConn on March 9.

·         It was also the Gators’ first three-run jack of the campaign.

·         Florida improved to 7-0 this season when homering in a contest.

·         The Gators’ pitching staff allowed three runs in 18 innings today, with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

·         UF has claimed both of its home SEC series against Western Division opponents Arkansas and LSU.

 

Up Next

The Gators and Tigers will conclude the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. The entire series can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell and Sunday’s finale will be available on GatorVision through GatorZone.com.  

 

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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