Freshman right-hander Tucker Simpson (Oxford, Ala.) (1-1) worked a career-high 5.2 innings for his first collegiate win and was supported by home runs from sophomores Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) and Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) as Florida (10-12) notched a 9-4 victory over North Florida (15-7) on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. Redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) also drove in two runs for the Gators, who ended a nine-game homestand on a winning note.
“Tucker [Simpson] did a really nice job,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He got us into the sixth inning. He kept his pitch count under 75 and that was his limit tonight, so we’ll have him available for the weekend. [Justin] Shafer came in and threw strikes. I thought [Ryan] Harris was really sharp and Mags [Johnny Magliozzi] threw the ball well.”
“Pitching-wise, the game was very good. We got on the board early. [Justin] Shafer hit a homer, then [Taylor] Gushue hit a homer, we were a little more aggressive on the basepaths tonight. We stole some bases and we did a couple of hit-and-runs, so overall, it was a clean game. It was a game that we put a lot of emphasis on. We’re at a point now in the season where these midweek games are just as important as any other games we play on the weekend. It was a good team effort and it certainly gives us a little momentum going into the weekend.”
Shafer opened the scoring with a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off of UNF junior David Trexler (2-2). Freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (2-for-4) extended his hitting streak to six games with a one-out single, matching his career high, but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Powers earned a free pass and Shafer followed with his second big fly of the year into the left-field bleachers.
Senior Corey Bass (3-for-4) cut the Ospreys’ deficit in half at 2-1 with a one-out homer to right field in the third inning. Simpson had breezed through the second frame with a pair of strikeouts. Senior Joe Wielbruda was hit by a pitch after the homer and Simpson worked out of further trouble by inducing an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play by sophomore Drew Weeks.
The Ospreys squandered a prime opportunity in the fourth, when junior Tyler Marincov drew a leadoff walk and a base-hit into right field by freshman Donnie Dewees (2-for-4). Simpson struck out freshman Corbin Olmstead, had senior Paul Karmeris fly out to center field and then fanned junior Peyton Walsh to preserve the Gators’ advantage.
Florida plated two runs on two hits in the bottom of the frame to build a 4-1 lead. Gushue (2-for-4) led off with his first homer since March 18 of last season against Vanderbilt by roping a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in left field. Senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) and sophomore Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.) were each hit, prompting a pitching change. Olmstead moved from first base to the mound for sophomore Jamie Cardwell (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R). Sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) loaded the bases with a single into left field and sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (1-for-2, two runs) extended the Gators’ lead to 4-1 with a sacrifice fly into center field that brought home Ramjit.
Simpson recorded the first two outs of the sixth before Dewees reached on an infield hit and Olmstead punched a single into center field. Shafer replaced Simpson, who worked a career-high 5.2 innings and allowed six hits and three runs, with five strikeouts and a walk. Karmeris doubled to left field, barely out of the reach of Bader, to narrow the gap to 4-3 and Shafer caught sophomore Spencer Herrmann looking on strikes to keep Florida in front.
“I was able to get into a rhythm there, especially in the second inning,” Simpson said after picking up his first victory. “Knowing that we put two runs on the board in the first, I was able to get more comfortable there and get into a rhythm.”
Bass had a one-out single in the seventh but was erased at second base on a nice defensive play by Powers. Although a wild pitch with two down enabled Wielbruda to occupy second, Shafer struck out Weeks to end the inning.
Senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs) began the home part of the frame with a walk and Turgeon followed with a single through the left side before Bader sacrificed his teammates into scoring position with a bunt. Hermann replaced junior Ryan McMahon (0.2 IP, 1 H 2 R) and uncorked a wild pitch to bring across Dent and Powers then stroked a double down the right-field line to give the hosts a 6-3 advantage.
Florida tacked on three more runs in the eighth for a 9-3 cushion. Mitchell started things off with a walk and was forced at second base on a fielder’s choice by Tobias. After Tobias stole second, Dent sliced an RBI single down the left-field line to drive him in. Turgeon was hit by a pitch and Bader legged out an infield single to load the bases before Powers earned a free pass to score Dent for an 8-3 count. Senior Marshal Rosenberger came in for Trey Ferrano (0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R) and uncorked a wild pitch that brought in Turgeon with the Gators’ final run.
After sophomore Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) worked a perfect eighth on seven pitches, sophomore Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) took the mound for the ninth. The righty retired the first two batters before yielding a single through the left side by freshman Kyle Brooks (2-for-4). Bass delivered a two-out triple to score Brooks and finalize the 9-3 margin.
UF returns to action on Friday at 7:30 p.m., when it visits No. 2 Vanderbilt (19-2/3-0 SEC) in the opener of a three-game series at Hawkins Field.
Article courtesy of UF Communications