Florida comes up big in ninth inning

After Florida sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) tied the game with a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth inning, redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) delivered a pinch-hit double to score freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) from first base with the winning run as the Gators (28-24/13-13 SEC) stunned Auburn (30-20/10-16 SEC), 5-4, to even the teams’ weekend series on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. The start of the game was delayed for one hour and 42 minutes due to heavy rains and unplayable field conditions.

With UF down to its final three outs and trailing 4-1, sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) started things off by being hit by a pitch from Tiger junior starter Michael O’Neal but was erased at second base on a fielder’s choice by sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.). After sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) went down swinging, senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) sliced a single into right field for two Gators aboard. Tobias launched O’Neal’s next pitch into the left-field bleachers to knot the score at 4-4 with his third round-tripper of the campaign.

Junior Reid Carter (1-1) replaced O’Neal (8.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R) and issued a walk to Bader on a full count. Powers stepped to the dish and blooped a double into right field, with Bader sliding home ahead of the tag, to give the Gators their third walk-off victory of the season (also March 6 vs. Jacksonville & April 27 vs. Tennessee). Freshman Mike Vinson (Miami, Fla.) earned his first collegiate win after coming into the game in the top of the ninth.

“There’s a lot to be said,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Casey Turgeon gets hit by a pitch in the elbow, and it looks like it hurt a little bit but he stood in there. Vickash Ramjit had a really good approach with two strikes. Obviously, you know Josh Tobias did his thing at the end. He got a good pitch to hit. The three-run home run is obviously a swing that we won’t forget. It was probably one of the biggest hits we have had all year long but that doesn’t happen unless those guys in front of him get on base. Those at-bats were just as equally important. We’ve been waiting for a win like this all year long.”

“[Auburn starter] Michael O’Neal threw great. He had 16 ground balls, walked no guys. The only walk they had was Harrison Bader in the bottom of the ninth. Auburn didn’t give us anything and they played really good defense.”

“There were a lot of things that happened throughout the game. It was one of those things where we were fortunate enough at the end. I’m not quite sure if we have anyone else other than [Harrison] Bader or [Richie] Martin that can score from first base on that short fly ball. Credit Harrison [Bader]; he came flying around third and didn’t assume he was going to be held up at third. He kept flying and Craig [Bell] sent him. What a way to win the ballgame.”

“I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball and give [Harrison] Bader a good chance to score,” Powers said of his game-winning heroics.

The Tigers had broken the ice in the second inning on an RBI single by freshman Jordan Ebert (3-for-4) against sophomore right-hander Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.), who was making his second SEC start. Junior Patrick Savage (4-for-4) had opened the frame with a double into right center field and scored on a one-out base-hit up the middle by Ebert, who took second on the relay throw to the plate. Magliozzi stranded the runner with back-to-back strikeouts to finish the frame with three punch-outs.

Savage extended Auburn’s lead to 2-0 in the third stanza with a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield. Junior Hunter Kelley (2-for-5, two runs) had reached on an infield single with one down and moved to second on a two-out free pass issued to senior Garrett Cooper. Savage collected his second hit of the night to bring home Kelley.

Freshman Brady Roberson (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) (2-for-3) cut the Gators’ deficit in half with a two-out RBI double down the right-field line off of O’Neal in the fifth inning. Bader (1-for-3, two runs) had legged out an infield single with two out and had taken second on a throwing error by Cooper. Roberson’s second hit of the game and third double of the season put the hosts on the scoreboard before O’Neal ended the inning by having senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) ground out.

Savage laced a single into right center in the Tigers’ sixth inning and Magliozzi had junior Dan Glevenyak hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

In the home part of the inning, freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) led off with a single up the middle to increase his hitting streak to five games and moved to second base on a grounder by Turgeon. Gushue pushed Martin to third base with a fly ball to the warning track and O’Neal had Shafer ground out to keep the score 2-1 in favor of the Tigers.

Kelley began the eighth inning with a homer to left field to give Auburn a 3-1 advantage and prompt a pitching change, as freshman Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) took the hill for the Gators. Over a career-high seven innings, Magliozzi scattered seven hits and permitted three runs, with five strikeouts and one walk. Cooper and Savage had consecutive singles with one down and sophomore Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) replaced Young (0.2 IP). Although Ebert punched a single into center field, Cooper was thrown out at the plate on a relay from Martin to Gushue.

“We asked Johnny Magliozzi to step up tonight,” O’Sullivan acknowledged. “I thought this was the most important game of the year up to this point. We’ve asked him one time before for this, against Mississippi State. He delivered then and he certainly did tonight.”

Junior Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) recorded the first out of the ninth before Vinson came into the contest. The righty notched a strikeout but then yielded a solo shot to junior Blake Austin to left field that provided the Tigers with a 4-1 margin before the Gators’ winning rally in the ninth.

Courtesy of UF Communications