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Josh Tobias came through with a clutch two-run single as a pinch hitter in the 8th for the Gators.

Friday May 16, 2014No. 13 Florida Baseball Claims Outright SEC Championship With 4-2 Victory Over Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn.

Josh Tobias came through with a clutch two-run single as a pinch hitter in the 8th for the Gators.

Florida secured the outright SEC Championship and clinched its weekend series with a 4-2 win over Tennessee on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

 

Holding a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, the No. 13 Gators (37-18/21-8 SEC) received a two-run, pinch-hit single by junior Josh Tobias with the bases loaded and two down for some breathing room. Although the Vols (30-22/11-18) trimmed the deficit to 4-2 in the home part of the frame, freshman Kirby Snead (2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R) pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many nights.

 

Freshman A.J. Puk (5-2) pitched five innings of one-run ball to earn his fourth win in SEC play, while junior Taylor Gushue was 3-for-4 with two doubles. The Gators have captured their last six series against Tennessee and extended their road winning streak to eight games, second-longest in school history (record of nine set in 1922).

 

Gushue plated junior Casey Turgeon with a two-out double in the first inning to open the scoring against senior Nick Williams (5-5). Turgeon had opened the game with a double down the left-field line and was sacrificed over by sophomore Richie Martin before Gushue’s team-leading 14th two-bagger and 43rd RBI.

 

Senior Taylor Smart (2-for-4) tied the game for the Vols with a leadoff homer in the second that hit the foul pole overlooking left field. It was his second of the series and fourth round-tripper of the year.

 

The Gators seized a 2-1 advantage in the sixth on an RBI grounder by junior Zack Powers. Sophomore Harrison Bader walked and Gushue singled and each advanced into scoring position on a bunt by junior Braden Mattson. Powers’ ground ball to second base brought Bader home.

 

Tennessee threatened by putting two runners aboard in the seventh but was foiled by an inning-ending strikeout by Snead. Junior Justin Shafer (1.2 IP) registered the first two outs of the stanza before yielding an infield single to sophomore Derek Lance. After Snead entered and issued a walk to Maddox, the lefty caught sophomore Christin Stewart looking on a full count to complete the frame.

 

Tobias delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single with the bases full in the eighth to give the Gators a 4-1 edge. Gushue led off with a double and was sacrificed to third by freshman pinch hitter Ryan Larson. An error on the play enabled UF to have two runners aboard. A fielder’s choice by Powers erased Larson, freshman Peter Alonso walked and Powers was called for interference on a fielder’s choice by freshman Buddy Reed for two down. Tobias stepped to the plate and sliced a base-hit through the left side that scored Gushue and Alonso.

 

Sophomore A.J. Simcox brought the Vols within 4-2 in the home part of the inning with a two-out single that plated sophomore Vincent Jackson.

 

Postgame Quotes

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On tonight’s Gator victory:

“I was really proud of the guys for responding the way that they did tonight. We talked before the game about the importance of coming out and playing hard and we got some clutch hits, timely pitching and great defense throughout the game. We didn’t want to share the title with anyone and the kids can now say that they are outright SEC Champions.”

 

On Florida’s pitching performance:

“A.J. gave us a great start – his fastball had a lot of life tonight and I love to see the progress of him going a career-best five innings. (Justin) Shafer bridged the gap and we went to Kirby (Snead) again and he did a really good job of closing out the game. It’s great to see the young guys grow every time they step on the mound and I like the way we are pitching as we wind down the grind of the regular season.”

 

Game Notes

·         Florida’s total of 21 wins in SEC play is one shy of the school record, as the Gators were 22-8 in both 2010 and 2011.

·         UF improved to 9-5 in league road games after going 12-3 at McKethan Stadium.

·         A.J. Puk set a career high by going five innings in his second SEC start (last vs. Arkansas on March 16). He is 4-1 in league games.

·         Casey Turgeon started the contest with his 11th double and scored on a two-bagger by Taylor Gushue.

·         Buddy Reed had a double in the second inning and a leadoff single in the seventh.

·         Josh Tobias is now 3-for-5 (.600) as a pinch hitter this season.

·         Kirby Snead has saved the first two games of the series with the Vols.

 

Up Next

The Gators and Vols will meet in the finale of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. The contest will be carried on CSS with Rusty Ensor and Matt Stewart 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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