Saturday April 5, 2014Gators Fend Off Late Rally, Even Series with Kentucky Behind Multiple Career Days
Junior catcher Taylor Gushue matched his career best with four RBI, John Sternagel belted a career high four hits and freshman right-hander Logan Shore (3-1) fired seven shutout innings as the No. 20 Gators (20-11, 7-5 SEC) evened the series with No. 19 Kentucky (21-10, 5-6 SEC) with an 11-10 victory. Left-hander A.J. Puk picked up his first career save after recording two outs in the ninth following Kentucky’s eight-run eighth and two-run ninth. The series will be decided at noon tomorrow.
Shore was the difference maker on the mound for the first seven innings and kept a potent Wildcats offense off the scoreboard with three strikeouts. UK failed to advance a runner past second and only mustered three hits off of the rookie from Coon Rapids, Minn.
Florida wasted no time to get on the board and parlayed a leadoff single and walk into the game’s opening runs. Gushue’s sac fly scored the leadoff man, second baseman Casey Turgeon, from third and moved shortstop Richie Martin (3-3) to second. Right fielder Braden Mattson upped to the lead to 2-0 with a hard hit single up the middle, scoring Martin. Gushue increased the Orange and Blue’s lead to 3-0 with a towering home run to right to lead off the third.
Both teams traded zeroes until the sixth when the Gators got back on the board with a five spot in the sixth. John Sternagel (4-5, 2 RBI) brought Peter Alonso home from second after an infield single caromed off of the third baseman and short stop and landed in shallow left. A walk to Turgeon chased UK starter Chandler Shepherd (5-2) and brought in Sam Mahar.
Mahar didn’t fare much better as Martin scored the fifth run with a sac fly to center and Harrison Bader knocked home the sixth with a single through the hole between third and short. Gushue notched his third and fourth RBI of the outing with a single to left. Zack Powers (2-4) made it a 9-0 game with a solo shot to center in the seventh.
Kentucky would go on to score eight runs in the eighth off of six UF relievers. UK sent 13 batters to the plate in the eighth and A.J. Reed notched his second home run of the series. Florida responded to UK’s big inning with a pair of insurance runs in the ninth. Those runs proved to be key because Kentucky added two more in the ninth.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan
“It was a wild won, especially after yesterday’s game. The message we gave the players this morning was the good thing about baseball is that when today’s game started at 1:05 p.m. the game is 0-0. Obviously, that is not how we wanted to script it out with a 9-0 lead. We’ve got to do a better job out of the bullpen there. But, a win is a win in this league. We’ll take it. We’re not going to be bashful about that. I thought that A.J. Puk did an outstanding job coming in and finishing out the game. I thought our offense was really good today. We answered back, and scoring those two runs in the ninth there was really important. There are a lot to build upon going into tomorrow.”
· Shore’s seven shutout innings matched his previous best. Shore held UConn scoreless in seven innings on March 7.
· Shore is 3-0 in SEC play in four decisions with wins over Arkansas, LSU and Kentucky. Shore is now 2-0 against ranked teams.
· In his last two SEC starts (March 29 vs LSU), Shore has picked up a pair of wins, pitched 15.2 innings, allowed nine hits and two runs and struck out eight.
· Gushue’s fourth home run of the year was the 14th of his career. Gushue also increased his hitting streak to five games.
· Sternagel’s four hits were a career high and only the second time in his career that he has recorded multiple hits in a game.
· Sternagel also notched his first career stolen base in the ninth.
· Martin now has two three-hit games and 12 multi-hit games this year, which leads the team.
· Powers’ home run in the seventh was his first since going yard against UCF on Feb. 19 of last season.
· Alonso’s double to right in the ninth was the second of his career.
Gators by the Numbers:
· UF has claimed 14 of its last 19 contests and boasts a 5-5 record away from Gainesville (3-5 in true road games, 2-0 at neutral sites).
· The Orange and Blue is 7-3 (.700) against top-25 opponents, including a perfect 4-0 against top-5 competition this spring.
· Eight of nine starters recorded a hit on the day for UF.
· Florida’s two game losing streak heading into today was tied for the longest of the year.
· The 17 hits were a season and SEC-game high for the Gators.
· The Gators are an unblemished 9-0 when they homer in a contest this year.
· Today’s two home runs matched a season high for the Gators.
· After six innings this year, Florida is 12-1 (.923) when leading, 1-10 (.091) when trailing and 7-0 (1.000) when tied.
· The duo of Richie Martin (SS) and Casey Turgeon (2B) has started all 31 games at their respective positions. Taylor Gushue has started all 31 games this year with 25 coming at catcher and six at designated hitter.
· Nine different pitchers have accounted for Florida’s 19 wins, with Shore, junior LHP Bobby Poyner (3-2, 2.35), sophomore RHP Aaron Rhodes (3-2, 2.01) and sophomore LHP Danny Young (3-0, 1.96) tied with 3 victories apiece.
· The Gators have taken their second consecutive SEC road series to a third game (Texas A&M).
· After dropping the opener 17-1, the Gator offense responded with 11 runs on a season best 17 hits.
· Florida holds a 133-60-1 advantage in the all-time series, including a 57-33-1 edge in Lexington.
· Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 11-9 against Kentucky, 5-4 in Gainesville and 6-5 in Lexington.
· The Gators have captured 10 of their last 13 series against the Wildcats. Florida has notched 2-1 series triumphs in four of the last five seasons (W, L, W in 2009; W, W, L in 2010; W, L, W in 2011; W, W, L in 2012), with Kentucky emerging victorious last March in Gainesville (UF 4-1, UK 11-5, UK 6-2).
· Florida has notched 2-1 series triumphs in four of the last five seasons (W, L, W in 2009; W, W, L in 2010; W, L, W in 2011; W, W, L in 2012), with Kentucky emerging victorious last March in Gainesville (UF 4-1, UK 11-5, UK 6-2).
No. 20 Florida (20-11/6-5 SEC) No. 19 Kentucky (21-10/5-6 SEC)
Sunday: TBA Andrew Nelson, Jr., RHP (1-2, 3.21)
Road Tripping: Today’s contest was the second of an eight-game road trip for the Gators. After this weekend’s three-game set, the Gators will face Florida State on Tuesday before a three-game series against South Carolina and a midweek contest at Florida Gulf Coast.
How to Stay Connected: The entire series be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell and Sunday’s games will be streamed on GatorVision through GatorZone.com with Kentucky’s announce team. Live stats for each game will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball team.