The Florida Gators (10-6) capped off a series sweep of visiting Connecticut (4-8) in walk off fashion, yet again, with a 6-5 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Huskies got on the board first, getting to Florida starter Karsten Whitson in the first inning. Jack Sundberg led the game off with a walk and was moved over to third by a perfectly executed hit-and-run from Eric Yavarone to give UConn runners on the corners with no outs. Vinny Sienna (5-14 on the weekend) opened the scoring with an RBI grounder and Blake Davey singled to plate Yavarone the very next at bat.
Just like that, the Huskies had put up more runs in one inning Sunday than they had mustered up the previous 21 innings.
Florida responded in its half of the first. Richie Martin led the game off with a single and came around to score on a Casey Turgeon double. Braden Mattson moved Turgeon to second before Taylor Gushue’s sac fly to right field would tie the game.
The Gators and Huskies continued to battle through the middle innings, with Florida taking the lead in the third, giving it back in the top half of the fourth before going back up again in bottom of the inning. UConn would score two runs in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead and would hold on to that lead into the bottom half of the ninth.
Pete Alonso (2-13 on the weekend) flied out to center and Florida’s chances at the sweep looked dim. Gushue stepped up to the plate and with one strike against him hit a towering fly ball down the left field line. Gushue flipped his bat, standing in the box watching as the ball hugged the line on its way towards the foul pole.
“I was hoping it was gone because I did a little bat flip,” Gushue said before his second homerun of the season tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. “I kind of watched it a little bit but about three quarters of the way there I knew it was going to stay fair.”
The Gators went quietly after the home run and were off to extra innings for the third-straight game.
The Huskies scratched out two hits and loaded the bases with just one out in the 10th. Bobby Poyner came out of the bullpen with the game on the line and executed to perfection.
“In that particular situation I knew I needed either a strikeout or a ground ball to the middle infield to try to turn a double play,” Poyner said. “I was really trying to stay out of the middle of the plate.”
Poyner got Bryan Daniello to strike out and Nico Darras to fly out harmlessly to Buddy Reed in center. The dugout erupted, rejuvenated by Poyner navigating through the jam and went to work offensively.
Josh Tobias (5-11 on the weekend) led things off by smoking a 3-2 offering all the way to the wall in left-center. Tobias rounded second, sliding into third base safely with a leadoff triple. Reed lined out to second base and Martin walked, bringing up the hottest bat in the Florida lineup, Turgeon.
Kevin O’Sullivan called for a safety squeeze on the first pitch but Turgeon couldn’t get it down, sending the count to 0-1. O’Sullivan kept the call on and this time Turgeon laid down a perfect bunt past the pitcher, scoring Tobias and sent the Huskies packing.
“It doesn’t happen very often. Three straight games where you play extra innings, this weekend was a great team effort,” O’Sullivan said. “There were a lot of guys who contributed; we won [the games] in different ways, Casey [Turgeon] had the walk-off on Friday, we got hit by a pitch to win last night, and we got the bunt by Casey again today.”
Picture Perfect Pitching
The Gator bats came alive today, scoring six runs, but it was the pitching staff that was the story of the weekend putting up a ridiculous line.
31 IP, 24 H, 5 ER, 9 BB, 27 K and a 1.45 ERA.
Breaking out of a slump
Josh Tobias started the year off painfully slow at the plate but his bat has come around the past couple of weeks.
Tobias was 5-11 (.454) against UCONN and is 9-22 (.409) over the last six games.
“Every hitter goes through that. I’d much rather go through it now than later on in the season. I knew I was gonna come back, eventually, if I kept swinging and eventually it would fall in.”
Quote of the Weekend
Florida has just two homeruns on the weekend but saw one on Sunday and also had some well hit balls this weekend into the gaps. Josh Tobias was asked how the power will figure into the Gators lineup this season and if he thinks the power bats will play a role the rest of the season.
We have some power on the team. We’re not going to hit 5,000 homeruns but we have some power to hit it in the gaps. It was good to see that come out today.”
Hitter of the weekend: Casey Turgeon
Turgeon is swinging a red-hot bat at the moment. The junior was 6-11 (.545) on the weekend with 3 RBI, 5 BB, 0 K and he reached base in 11-of-16 plate appearances (.692 OBP).
Pitchers of the weekend: Logan Shore & Bobby Poyner
The freshman is pitching like anything but. Shore three seven scoreless innings on Friday night and may have found a home as the Friday night starter for the foreseeable future.
Shore: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (0.45 ERA on the season)
Poyner has moved from the Friday night starter to a bullpen pitcher but has excelled in his new role. Poyner appeared in all three games this weekend, earning the win on Saturday and Sunday.
Poyner: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2K, 2 wins