Since quoting “Major League II” seems to be a growing trend around here lately, (see here) I couldn’t help but think of the famous pregame speech delivered by faux Indians skipper Lou Brown after Florida’s game against UCF on Tuesday:
“We won a game yesterday. If we win one today, that’s two in a row. We win one tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak — it has happened before.”
After shutting out Ole Miss in two straight games last weekend and following it up with a come-from-behind 5-3 win against the Knights, Florida currently finds itself in the midst of its own winning streak, the third such positive stretch of the season.
“It was a really good team win,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “We got contributions from a lot of different players tonight.”
Although the ending was ideal, things didn’t start off well for Florida or freshman pitcher Tucker Simpson on Tuesday.
In the second inning, Simpson gave up a one-out ground-rule double to UCF left fielder Parker Webster. One batter later, Parker was crossing home plate after a Jeramy Matos single to left. After an Austin Johnson double gave UCF runners on second and third, a shaken Simpson delivered an untimely walk to shortstop Tommy Williams, loading the bases.
With Florida in trouble, O’Sullivan didn’t see fit to let the young Simpson work his way out of the jam, instead opting for junior southpaw Daniel Gibson.
Gibson would walk his first batter, but would eventually get the Gators out of the inning by striking out James Vasquez, stranding three runners.
The Gators would wait until the sixth inning to put any runs of their own on the board.
Casey Turgeon started the bottom of the sixth with a sharp single to right center before advancing on a Harrison Bader groundout. Taylor Gushue, who is riding a six-game hitting streak, scored Turgeon with a single of his own.
Following a Gushue steal, Vickash Ramjit would double off the left field wall to bring Gushue home, knotting the game up at two.
Ryan Harris would surrender a run in his first inning of work in the seventh, but the Gators would capitalize on a pair of UCF mistakes to regain the lead in the bottom of the frame.
Following a successful Cory Reid bunt, Casey Turgeon would also reach after being hit by a pitch. A Harrison Bader groundout would move both runners over. With two runners in scoring position, Gushue stepped to the plate with a chance to do damage.
However, Gushue would need to do very little, as a mishandled ball by UCF third baseman Chris Taladay would allow for Gushue to reach safely while simultaneously scoring Reid. Following Gushue’s at-bat, UCF would sub in sophomore pitcher Spencer Davis for Chris Matulis.
Unfortunately for Davis though, his first appearance of the game would have lasting consequences for the Knights as a wild pitch to Justin Shafer allowed for a Turgeon to come home.
Florida would add an insurance run in the eighth inning, scored by freshman Richie Martin who returned to action for the first time in nearly a month after sustaining a broken finger. Martin came into the game merely as a pinch runner for Mike Fahrman.
A walk and a groundout would move Martin from first to third, and a Harrison Bader fielder’s choice allowed for Martin to score.
With the game essentially in hand, Florida sent in closer Johnny Magliozzi to seal the deal, which he did in three consecutive batters. It was Magliozzi’s sixth save of the season.
Although Florida has been finding ways to put runs on the board as of late, it’s the bullpen that continues to shine.
“Gibson came in and did an outstanding job … I think that might be his fourth or fifth impressive outing in a row,” O’Sullivan said. “Mags [Johnny Magliozzi] came in and did his thing once again.”
Added Gushue: “Gibson, Harris and Magliozzi threw awesome for us. We couldn’t really ask anything more from them. For them to be consistent is huge for our team. It is going to take us a long way.”
The 4.1 innings tossed by Gibson were a career high, but it was Harris who was credited with the win after throwing four strikeouts in two innings, a career-high of his own.
The win was the eighth comeback victory for the Gators this season.
Florida now travels to Starkville, Miss. for a series with Mississippi State this weekend.