Gator Sports Roundup: 3-30-14 Baseball, Softball, and Lacrosse
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida (19-9/6-3 SEC) used a pair of four-run outbursts and drew a season-high 10 walks to complete a sweep of No. 4 LSU (20-8-1/3-5-1 SEC), 11-7, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. It was the Gators’ fourth regular-season sweep of the Bayou Bengals in school history (1996, 2010, 2011, 2014) and head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club notched its fourth-straight win over a top-4 opponent after knocking off No. 1 Florida State last Tuesday and downing the Tigers three times this weekend. UF has taken 13 of its last 16 outings and is tied atop the SEC standings after three weekends of league action.
Freshman left-hander Kirby Snead (Alachua, Fla.) (1-0), who had pitched 5.1 innings all season, earned his first collegiate victory by tossing 4.2 scoreless innings in which he permitted two singles. He was supported by an opportunistic offense that included a career-high three RBI by freshman John Sternagel (Rockledge, Fla.) and two-RBI performances by freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.), junior Mike Fahrman (Tampa, Fla.) and sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.).
Junior Kade Scivicque roped a two-out RBI single in the first inning off of junior right-hander Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) to score sophomore Alex Bregman with the game’s opening run.
The Gators answered against junior left-hander Zac Person (1-1) in the bottom of the frame on a two-out homer by sophomore Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) over the wall in left center.
LSU seized a 3-1 lead in the second inning on a two-run double by freshman Jake Fraley (2-for-4) after a leadoff single by junior Tyler Moore and a double by junior Conner Hale (2-for-4). After a sac bunt by senior Christian Ibarra, the Gators prevented Fraley from scoring on a relay from junior second baseman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) to junior catcher Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.).
Sternagel brought Florida within 3-2 in the home part of the inning with a sacrifice fly after junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) (2-for-3, three runs) had a leadoff bunt single and Shafer followed with a double to left field.
Senior Sean McMullen provided LSU with a 4-2 advantage by starting the third inning with a homer to left field, his second of the campaign. Snead took over for Shafer (2.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R) and retired the next three batters.
Florida plated four runs with two down in the bottom of the stanza to seize a 6-4 lead. Turgeon drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a bunt by Martin and swiped third base before scoring on Gushue’s infield hit. After Mattson walked, senior Nate Fury took over for Person (2.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R) and issued a free pass to Shafer that loaded the bases. Sternagel followed with another walk to bring home Gushue and Alonso ripped a two-run single to left field to give the hosts their first lead of the afternoon.
The Gators tacked on four more runs in the fifth, highlighted by a bases-loaded, two-run, pinch-hit single by Fahrman and a two-out, two-run double by Martin. Sternagel completed the Gators’ scoring with an RBI single with two down in the eighth. LSU scored three runs in the ninth on a sac fly by Ibarra and a two-run homer by junior Chris Sciambra.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On getting the series’ sweep against LSU:
“I was really proud of the way we bounced back today after we fell behind. Every time LSU scored in the first three (innings), we answered in the bottom half. Then, obviously, some walks helped us on the fifth (inning). I’m really pleased on how we played this weekend; it was certainly a great week for us, playing some really, really good teams.”
On freshman lefty Kirby Snead’s performance:
“He threw the ball well. I thought his fastball had good life to it, his changeup was really good, and he was throwing a few breaking balls when he needed to versus the lefties. Obviously, that was a career long for him and he threw the ball really well.”
Freshman left-hander Kirby Snead
On picking up his first collegiate win:
“It’s great. I just came in and wanted to throw strikes and get (batters) out. I wasn’t focused on getting the win. I just wanted to help the team win today and get a sweep against a good team.”
On pitching for extended innings:
“It felt really good. I took it inning-by-inning, pitch-by-pitch, and batter-by-batter. I just let the game come to me and didn’t try to do too much to try and get batters out.”
Junior Mike Fahrman
On his pinch-hit, two-run single:
“It was huge to get that extra cushion in the seventh inning against LSU. They’re a good team. We needed that; we needed the sweep.”
On being a pinch hitter and getting called off the bench:
“It takes some focus. You have to always have an idea of whose coming in (to pitch), whether it’s a lefty or righty. You think ‘Hey, this could be my shot.’ Just staying focused is the biggest thing.”
Freshman first baseman Peter Alonso
On his two-run single in the third inning:
“It felt really good. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten into one like that. It was good to get it out of the way and keep on rolling.”
On the Gators’ hitting:
“At the beginning of the year, we were struggling with pitch recognition. Now, everyone is recognizing pitches a lot better. We also swung the bats a lot better. Everyone is swinging the bat well, and we just have to keep the momentum rolling against FAU on Tuesday.”
On sweeping LSU:
“6-3 is a lot better than 5-4 in the SEC, so this puts us in a good position. We just need to keep playing like we’re playing. This kind of makes up for the rocky start we had at the beginning of the year. It’s awesome how far we’ve come as a team. Everyone is coming together and doing their jobs. I couldn’t really ask for more.”
· Florida has posted three-game regular-season sweeps of LSU in 1996, 2010, 2011 and 2014.
· After trailing 4-2, the Gators scored nine runs in a row before the Tigers closed the game with three runs in the ninth.
· UF registered its seventh come-from-behind victory of the year and second of the weekend (2-1 in game one on Saturday).
· The Gators reached double-digits in runs for the second time all season (13 vs. Illinois State on March 12).
· In the first inning, sophomore Harrison Bader belted his first homer of the year and second dinger of his career (March 30, 2013, vs. Ole Miss).
· With Bader’s jack, the Gators improved to 8-0 in 2014 when they homer.
· Freshman John Sternagel started all three games of the series at third base and was 3-for-9 (.333) in the series.
· Junior Justin Shafer made his first career start in SEC play this afternoon and second start of the week (vs. Florida State on March 25).
The Gators will host Florida Atlantic (15-12/4-8 C-USA) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell and will be carried onESPN3.
Follow the Gators
Live stats for each game are available on GatorZone.com and fans can also receive updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball team.
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