CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Brian Johnson didn’t have his best stuff on the mound, but the junior hit 4 for 5 with five RBI, erasing the five runs he surrendered to Miami in just 3.1 innings of work.
The career day at the plate fueled the Florida 13-5 victory Saturday night in which the No. 1 Florida Gators (9-1) scored 10 of its 13 runs from the 5th inning on.
Johnson has the luxury most pitchers don’t have—he can flat out hit.
“That’s the advantage of doing this all my life,” Johnson said. “If you have a bad inning or a bad outing like I didn’t pitch to well, you got to put it behind you and go to the plate and new approach.”
Florida had its best offensive performance this season getting 13 runs on 16 hits.
Miami Hurricanes starter Eric Whaley (1-1, 4.44) gave up seven earned runs and 10 hits. He came into the game 2 start with a spotless ERA.
Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan was happy with the dominant offensive performance where Florida came back twice from early Miami leads.
“That was the best offensive night we’ve had,” O’Sullivan said. “Fell behind after the first three and to battle and come back the way we did, I was awfully proud the way they swung the bats. That was the best night offensively.”
The No. 8 Miami Hurricanes (8-2) jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Gators with a two-run home run by catcher Peter O’Brien in the first inning and a third inning RBI single by the catcher.
Johnson just didn’t have his best stuff on the mound Saturday night. Miami added two runs in the 4th after Florida tied the score in the top half of the inning.
Then the Gators decided to show off.
Johnson hit a home run into the second level of the parking garage beyond the right field wall.
Freshman Taylor Gushue, hitting sixth in the lineup, followed Johnson with his second home run of his career.
Despite the back-to-back fireworks by the Gators, Florida still found itself down 5-3 after a two-run home run by Hurricanes right fielder Chantz Mack in the bottom half of the fourth.
After Johnson allowed four straight hits, including the Mack home run, O’Sullivan called upon one of his veteran relievers for a long relief outing.
Senior right-hander Greg Larson (1-0, 1.86) answered the call and pitched 4.2 innings of perfect baseball in the longest outing of his career. He retired all 14 Hurricanes he faced.
Larson only threw 51 pitches and bested the 3.1 inning relief appearance from Austin Maddox the night before.
His effective sink on the ball and ability to pitch to contact helped him out, Larson said.
“It feels good,” Larson said. “That is the most I’ve thrown in a long time. It’s feeling all right. Tomorrow I’ll probably have a different answer, but it’s feeling OK.”
The dominant pitching performance by Larson allowed the Gators to pile on the runs in the later stages of game 2.
A five run fifth by the Gators put the game out of reach for Miami.
Florida sent nine batters to the plate, but Gushue stole the show with his second home run of the ballgame.
This time, the three-run home run by the freshman reached the third level of that same parking garage in right field.
This season, Gushue has three home runs. The shot was the longest home run hit to the garage since a ball hit by former Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal.
He had no idea just how far he hit the second home run.
“No way,” Gushue said. “I hit it that far? Are you serious? No way! Are you kidding me? I hit it that far? It feels great. I thought I hit the ball in the trees. Obviously I wasn’t watching.”
Florida added five runs over the last four innings taking advantage of four young Hurricanes relievers.
The Gators take on Miami at 1 p.m. for the series finale.
Florida right-hander Karsten Whitson will not pitch due to early-season arm trouble. The Gators likely will pitch sophomore Jonathon Crawford (1-1, 6.43) who last threw five innings of shutout ball versus UCF on Feb. 22.
Miami will go with sophomore left-handed and the 2011 opening day starter Bryan Radziewski (1-0, 1.59).
– The Gators have 31 hits in two games, but none of those hits belong to senior slugger Preston Tucker. Tucker is 0 for 10 in the series, but O’Sullivan isn’t worried. “He’ll get going. It’s nice to get some production 1 through 9. There’s no question.”
– Miami has committed four errors this series while the Gators haven’t committed any.
– Florida increases its win streak versus Miami to 10 games.
– Gators catcher Mike Zunino extends his hitting streak to 13 games. His career high hit steak is 17 games.
– Brian Johnson, who went 4 for 5, was a triple away from the cycle. The last Florida player to hit for the cycle was Derek Nicholson versus Kentucky April 3 1998. Johnson also had a career-high five RBI.