After dropping a sixth straight game on Friday, Florida utility player Justin Shafer said, “One of these times, it’s going to go our way.”
On Saturday, Shafer’s words proved to be prophetic, as the Gators used a four-run eighth inning to beat Miami 6-4, setting up a rubber match for Sunday afternoon.
The loss was the first of the season for Miami (10-1).
Although freshman Tucker Simpson struck out a season-high six batters on Saturday night, the Gators (4-7) appeared to be playing catch-up for most of the game, despite a close score throughout.
Down 3-2 heading into the eighth, Casey Turgeon — who hit a solo home run in the sixth inning — drew a leadoff walk, before being moved to third on a Justin Shafer double.
After Zack Powers reached on a HBP, Taylor Gushue stepped to the plate with bases loaded and a chance to put the Gators ahead.
With a 3-1 count, Gushue hit a hard single to right, driving in both Turgeon and Shafer to give the Gators their first lead of the series.
Powers would score on an Adam Sargent wild pitch just moments later, and a second wild pitch from Sargent would bring in Gushue to give the Gators a 6-3 lead.
With Johnny Magliozzi on the mound to close things out, the Gators quickly took care of the first two Miami batters in the ninth inning. The ‘Canes would keep things interesting however, as Chantz Mack hit a double to right field, only to score one batter later after a David Thompson double.
With the tying run approaching the plate, O’Sullivan took a brief visit to the mound for a quick chat with Magliozzi. Whether enjoying a new sense of calm or sense of urgency, Magliozzi quickly dispatched of UM’s final batter, giving the Gators their first in since UCF on February 19th.
“This team needed something good to happen,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Obviously, we scored four in the eighth inning, but we hung in there all game – we made some big pitches when we needed to and I thought Tucker [Simpson] gave us a quality start.”
Simpson lasted 4.1 innings, while turning in the aforementioned six strikeouts. Sophomore Ryan Harris added 3.1 quality innings, netting two strikeouts, before Magliozzi came in to finish the deal.
Magliozzi was credited with the win while Miami pitcher AJ Salcines was given the loss.
On Sunday, the Gators will attempt to hand their rivals their first series loss of the year.
Today was a good game; I can’t really ask for anything more,” Gushue said after his three-RBI performance. “But, tomorrow is a completely different day and we want that one tomorrow.”