Gators clinch series over Tennessee

Redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) delivered a fielder’s choice with none out and the bases loaded to score sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) with the winning run in the 10th inning to lift Florida (25-19/12-8 SEC) to a 3-2 victory over Tennessee (17-24/5-15 SEC) on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. The Vols had tied the contest on a one-out RBI single in the ninth inning. With the Gators’ 11th triumph in their past 12 contests and ninth-straight home win, Kevin O’Sullivan’s squad secured its third-straight SEC series win and captured its fifth-consecutive series against UT.

“It was a total team effort tonight,” O’Sullivan acknowledged. “We started the game with runners on second and third with nobody out, and Jonathon [Crawford] goes strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, and we don’t give up a run there, which was huge. Daniel Gibson came in, gave us 2.1 innings and threw the ball really well. Ryan Harris did a really nice job. And, what can you say about Johnny Mags [Magliozzi]? He made good pitches, he had a couple of strikeouts with the bases loaded and he had a big strikeout with [David] Houser, a runner at second and only one out in the ninth. He just did an outstanding job and fought through it.”

“Offensively, [Harrison] Bader had an outstanding night – he had an RBI with two strikes on him. [Casey] Turgeon had a big night – leading off the bottom of the 10th [with a single] was huge. [Taylor] Gushue got to a 2-0 count and put a great swing on the ball. Zack [Powers] battled with two strikes there at the end. It’s a game of inches, and Turgeon was just safe and just beat the throw to home.”

“Once again, this team has been battling all year long and none of these games are easy. Tennessee has a lot of good, young players and their position players are going to be really good. It was just another SEC game and those are going to be like this – it comes down to a pitch here or a pitch there, a play here or a play there. We’re fortunate to get the win tonight and I’m very proud of our team with the way we battled.”

Sophomore Will Maddox (2-for-3) opened the game with a single up the middle and Simcox (3-for-4) sliced a double into left field to give Tennessee a pair of runners in scoring position against junior Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.). However, the righty countered with three-straight strikeouts of junior Scott Price, freshman Christin Stewart and junior Pierce Bily.

In the bottom of the frame, freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk from junior Nick Williams and Turgeon blooped a single into left field to put the Gators in business. Williams worked out of the jam by striking out Gushue and having Shafer ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Junior Taylor Smart drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and was sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt by freshman David Houser. Crawford induced a groundout by freshman Derek Lance and walked Maddox intentionally with two down before issuing a free pass to Simcox that filled the bags. Junior Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) was called upon to replace Crawford (4.2 IP, 2 H, 5 K, 3 BB) and had Price pop up to senior shortstop Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) to keep the contest scoreless.

Gushue broke the ice with a one-out double down the left-line in the sixth after Turgeon had drawn a walk. Gushue’s 12th two-bagger of the season gave him a team-high 30 RBI and boosted his hitting streak to seven games.

Gibson set down the Vols in order for the second-straight frame in the seventh inning and Florida took a 2-0 lead on an RBI single up the middle by freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (3-for-4). Sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) had singled into left field with one out and went to second on the play on a throwing error by freshman Vincent Jackson. Bader ripped a single up the middle that scored Tobias, who slid into the catcher as the relay throw rolled away. A fly ball into right field by Dent advanced Bader to third base and a walk to Martin prompted a pitching change. Freshman Andy Cox took over for Williams (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 5 K, 3 BB) and retired Turgeon on a fly ball in foul territory to hold the visitors’ deficit at two runs.

Maddox started the eighth with a walk and Gibson (2.1 IP, 1 R, 1 K, 1 BB) was replaced by sophomore Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.). The Vols worked a hit-and-run to perfection, as Simcox singled through the right side of the infield to push Maddox to third base. Price narrowed the gap to 2-1 with a sacrifice fly into left field and Harris responded with a strikeout of Stewart. Junior pinch hitter Ethan Bennett worked a walk on a full count and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Parker Wormsley. Magliozzi came in for Harris (0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 1 BB) and yielded an infield single to Jackson that loaded the bases with two down. The Gators’ closer induced a grounder by Smart that Tobias scooped up and threw over to second base to retire Jackson and preserve UF’s one-run advantage.

With the Vols down to their final two outs, Lance walked with one down and Maddox singled into center field before Simcox tied the game with an RBI single into left field. Price loaded the bags with a base-hit into right field and Magliozzi registered back-to-back strikeouts of Stewart and freshman pinch hitter Vance Vizcaino to keep the contest deadlocked at two runs apiece.

Senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) opened the Gators’ ninth with a single into left field and moved to second on a grounder by Tobias. Bettencourt was called out of the bullpen for Cox (1.2 IP, 1 H) and Bader legged out an infield single for Gators on the corners. A fielder’s choice by Dent forced Bader at second base and Dent then took second base on catcher’s indifference. Bettencourt struck out Martin to send the game into extra innings.

In the 10th inning, Smart roped a one-out double into right field but was stranded there after Magliozzi struck out Houser and had Lance ground out to shortstop.

Courtesy of UF Communications