Tuesday May 6, 2014No. 24 Mercer Downs No. 8 Florida Baseball, 4-2
Freshman A.J. Puk threw a perfect first inning and went 2-for-4 for the Gators.
Mercer plated four runs with two down to defeat Florida, 4-2, on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. Senior Michael Massi broke open a 2-1 game in the seventh inning with a two-run homer for the Bears.
Senior Brandon Barker (4-3) retired all nine batters he faced to earn the win for No. 24 Mercer (35-11), while the No. 8 Gators’ (33-16) winning streak ended at six games. Junior Dimitri Kourtis worked the final two frames and picked up his third save.
Freshman Charlie Madden (2-for-4) gave Mercer a 1-0 lead with a two-out RBI single in the fourth. Senior Sasha LaGarde (2-for-5) led off with a single and junior Chesny Young walked, prompting a pitching change. Freshman Dane Dunning relieved freshman Brett Morales (0-2) and induced a 6-4-3 double play by senior Nick Backlund that pushed LaGarde to third and Madden followed with a base-hit into center field.
The Bears took a 2-0 advantage on a two-out RBI single by LaGarde in the fifth. Junior Devin Bonin had a one-out single, moved to second on a passed ball and came home on a bloop single into center field off of freshman Kirby Snead.
Freshmen Peter Alonso and A.J. Puk (2-for-4) began the Gator fifth with back-to-back singles and were sacrificed into scoring position by freshman John Sternagel (2-for-3). Junior Grant Papelian worked out of the jam by retiring freshman Buddy Reed and junior Casey Turgeon.
An RBI grounder by junior Taylor Gushue put the hosts on the scoreboard in the sixth. Sophomore Richie Martin led off with a bunt single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Gushue plated his teammate with a ground ball to the right side of the infield.
Massi extended Mercer’s margin to 4-1 with a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh. Freshman pinch hitter Danny Edgeworth drew a walk from sophomore Eric Hanhold, advanced to second on a bunt, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Massi’s fifth homer.
Junior Zack Powers brought the Gators within 4-2 in the eighth on a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Martin.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On not finding a groove:
“You know, it was just one of those nights – credit Mercer. We saw some pretty good arms and they did a nice job. They made pitches when they needed to and we’ve been on the other side of that plenty of times this year. It was one of those things where we didn’t get a big hit when we needed to. They got two or three hits when they needed to - bottom line. We only got seven hits. I don’t want to look too much into it – it is what it is. We just didn’t play well enough to win and credit Mercer. We just have to have a good practice tomorrow.”
On if the offense from the weekend not carrying over to tonight was a surprise:
“I’m a little surprised, but, once again, I think that had something to do with their pitchers. We saw their number one starter and number two starter. You know, that’s no excuse. We tend to swing the bats better against those type of pitchers anyway. But, once again, it’s just one of those nights. It’s baseball. It’s disappointing but what are you going to do at this point. We just have to move on and have a good practice tomorrow. We have a really good Vanderbilt team coming in and we play on National TV on Thursday night and all of our goals are right there in front of us.”
Freshman third baseman John Sternagel
On tonight’s loss:
“We have to turn the page pretty quick. On Thursday, we have to focus on Vanderbilt and put our work in. Our team, we practice hard. On off-days, we have guys up here all the time hitting on the field. We are always pushing and always working hard. We are going to keep working hard and that’s about all we can control.”
· The Gators are now 8-4 (.667) in mid-week contests this year.
· Six of Florida’s seven pitchers tonight were freshmen.
· A.J. Puk drew the start and worked a perfect first inning with a strikeout. It was the left-hander’s fifth start, first since April 23 against Florida A&M. Puk also went 2-for-4 as the Gators’ designated hitter.
· Brett Morales allowed one hit and one run over two innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.
· Harrison Bader drew a walk for the Gators’ first base-runner in the fourth inning and stole second for his ninth theft of the year.
· Dane Dunning worked 1.2 innings (2 H, 1 R, 1 K) and was followed to the mound by Kirby Snead (1 H), Eric Hanhold (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R), Tyler Deel (0.1 IP, 1 K) and Shaun Anderson (2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 K).
· John Sternagel collected his fourth multiple-hit outing of the season.
The Gators start their final home SEC regular-season series against No. 10 Vanderbilt on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert and will be carried on ESPNU with Chris Burke, Dave Neal and Kyle Peterson.
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