Pitching Powers Gators to 4-0 Win Over FGCU
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Redshirt junior right-hander Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) and sophomore right-hander Aaron Rhodes (Venice, Fla.) combined on a three-hit shutout as No. 23 Florida (6-5) blanked FGCU (6-6), 4-0, on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. The Eagles had nipped the Gators, 2-1, on Thursday night.
Whitson (1-0) allowed only a first-inning single over five innings, his longest outing of the season, to earn his first victory since June 10, 2012, in the Gators’ NCAA Super Regional victory over NC State that clinched a berth in the College World Series. Rhodes registered career-highs in innings pitched (4.0) and strikeouts (4) to collect his first career save as UF posted its second shutout of the campaign (4-0 on Feb. 14 versus Maryland). A trio of players, freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4), junior Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) (2-for-3) and junior Casey Turgeon (2-for-4) had multiple-hit efforts as part of a 10-hit offensive attack.
The Gators used the short game to seize a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. Alonso led off with a single through the left side and junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) followed with a walk from junior Nick Deckert (1-2). Tobias advanced his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and a bunt single by freshman Ryan Larson (Orlando, Fla.) scored Alonso. Junior Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) brought home Mattson with a squeeze bunt up the first-base line.
Florida used back-to-back doubles with two down in the seventh inning by Turgeon and Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) to build a 4-0 advantage. Sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) boosted his hitting streak to 15 games with a two-out single into right field, stole second base and scored on Turgeon’s second double of the year. A two-bagger into left field by Gushue enabled Turgeon to score and ended the night for Deckert (6.2 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 7 K, 1 BB).
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On the Gators’ performance tonight and their second shutout of the season:
“It was a better day than yesterday. It was the longest outing for Karsten (Whitson) this year; he threw five innings and gave up one hit. He threw the ball better, obviously, that was the goal, to get him through five (innings) today. I thought he threw the ball really well and it’s certainly something to build upon and move forward. Aaron Rhodes threw the ball well as well, with four innings of no-run ball and no walks. He was outstanding. Overall, it was a good game; it was one we needed and I’m pleased with how we bounced back from yesterday.”
Redshirt junior right-hander Karsten Whitson
On his pitching performance tonight:
“It’s a big win for our team. I knew I had to go out there and pitch a really good game. We were able to score some runs and our dugout was great. Aaron (Rhodes) came in behind me and did outstanding, so it was a great team win.”
Sophomore right-hander Aaron Rhodes
On his pitching performance tonight:
“I knew out of the pen I had to come in ready with my breaking ball. They took some good swings on my slider at one point, but I battled through it and threw strikes. The rest of the guys played really good defense behind me and we got our bats going which helped a lot.”
On getting the final out for the tonight’s shutout:
“I knew I had to come in and throw well because we only had a two-run lead, but contributing to the shutout was a good feeling. We needed that win tonight, so we are feeling good about it.”
Junior second baseman Casey Turgeon
On mindset going into tonight’s game vs. FGCU:
“We came to the field and we were on a mission: to come out here and get the win. We got the win and everyone’s happy. We got our minds right and came out and put together a really good game.”
On (Karsten) Whitson’s pitching performance tonight:
“He pitched awesome. He’s a competitor. He showed that tonight. He threw the ball really well and I am really proud of him.”
Series Between Gators & Eagles
· With tonight’s victory, Florida improves to 8-5 all-time vs. FGCU, including a 6-5 edge in Gainesville.
· Freshman Peter Alonso made his second career start at first base.
· Junior Braden Mattson made his third start this season behind the plate for the Gators.
· Junior Taylor Gushue started as the designated hitter for the Orange and Blue for the third time this season after starting eight games behind the plate.
· Junior Josh Tobias recorded his first hit of the year with a one-out single to right center in the second inning. He went 2-for-3, his first multi-hit game of the season.
· With a single through the left side in the fourth, freshman Peter Alonso extended his hitting streak to four games.
· Alonso logged the third multi-hit game of his career, finishing 2-for-4.
· Freshman Ryan Larson tallied his fourth RBI, scoring Alonso in the fourth inning with an infield single to put the Gators on the board.
· Junior Zack Powers notched his second RBI of the season to score Mattson, also in the fourth stanza.
· With a single to right field in the seventh, sophomore Richie Martin extended his hitting streak to 15-straight games dating back to last season.
· Martin swapped a bag in the seventh, making it his third stolen base in as many attempts.
· Junior Casey Turgeon recorded his fourth multiple-hit game of the season (2-for-4) and 35th of his career in the seventh inning with a double down the right side to score Martin. It was his second double of the year.
· Junior Taylor Gushue recorded his third double of the season in the subsequent at-bat, scoring Turgeon with a hit down the left line.
· Gushue now has a team-leading 10 RBI in the season.
From the Mound
· Right-hander Karsten Whitson made his third start for the Gators in 2014, surrendering one hit in 5.0 innings of work, a season-high for the redshirt junior.
· Sophomore RHP Aaron Rhodes made his fourth appearance in the sixth frame coming in relief of Whitson.
· Rhodes struck out fourth batters to set a career-high in strikeouts.
· He pitched four innings, surrendering zero walks.
· By preserving the win, Rhodes earned his first career save.
· Whitson and Rhodes allowed a combined three hits and zero runs to record Florida’s second shutout of the year.
· Two pitchers is the least amount of pitchers the Gators have used in a game this season.
Florida completes its four-game weekend against Illinois (5-4) at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The contest can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell.
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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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