Aaron Rhodes Pitches Gators to Win Over Missouri
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore right-hander Aaron Rhodes (Venice, Fla.) (5-2) threw a one-hit shutout as No. 12 Florida (29-15/14-6 SEC) clinched its weekend series by blanking Missouri (19-23/6-14 SEC), 5-0, on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. With the triumph, the Gators have captured their last seven SEC contests and secured their third series win in a row. Rhodes surrendered only a second-inning double to senior Dillon Everett and retired the final 18 Tiger hitters in going the distance for UF’s first complete game of the season.
The Gators broke the ice in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. Junior Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) started the frame with a single up the middle, moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by redshirt senior Eric Anderson (2-3) and advanced to third on a grounder by junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) that was misplayed by senior second baseman Shane Segovia. Although Anderson had junior Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) hit into a double play, Gushue scored.
Helped by a pair of errors, Florida increased its lead to 3-0 in the fifth. Freshman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) drew a one-out walk from junior reliever Keaton Steele and freshman Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) (2-for-3, two runs) followed with a base hit into right field. A fielder’s choice by freshman John Sternagel (Rockledge, Fla.) forced Alonso at third base, but an errant throw by freshman Ryan Howard enabled Reed to score. Another error by junior right fielder Logan Pearson on a relay throw to the plate allowed Sternagel to reach third base. Junior Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) then delivered an RBI single through the right side of the infield to bring across Sternagel.
Powers greeted sophomore Austin Tribby with a leadoff homer in the seventh to expand the margin to 4-0. Powers raised his hitting streak to eight games with his third homer of the campaign that cleared the right-field fence. Reed legged out a bunt single and moved to third on a pinch-hit single up the middle by junior Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.). A bunt single from Turgeon plated Reed with UF’s fifth run.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On Aaron Rhodes’ performance today:
“His bullpen on Wednesday was really, really good. He was obviously good today. It’s tough enough when we’ve been so strict on pitch counts to throw a complete game, but to throw a one-hit, nine-inning shutout is really hard to do. I thought he got better as the game went on. I thought the ninth inning was as good of an inning as he threw all day. I’m really proud of the way he threw the ball today.”
On the Gators’ hitting today:
“I think the big at bat during the day was the two-out single in the fifth by (Casey) Turgeon to put us up three runs instead of just two. We scrapped today; we clawed. They used five pitchers. We got their best bullpen guy into the game. Overall, I’m very pleased with how we played today.”
Sophomore right-hander Aaron Rhodes
On his pitching performance today:
“It felt really good to get the strikeout after I walked the lead-off (batter). After that, I didn’t have a strikeout for a while and I let my defense do the work. They helped me out a lot. It feels really good. I don’t remember the last time I’ve thrown a complete game, not even in summer ball. It probably goes back to high school so it’s definitely a good feeling.”
Junior second baseman Casey Turgeon
On Aaron Rhodes’ pitching performance:
“He threw really well today. It’s great to see. He gave up one hit and it’s awesome to save our bullpen. When we get out ahead, it gives him confidence with his pitches and he executes them. At the end of the day, we are a lot better off getting ahead early.”
· Florida improved to 5-2 (.714) in its seven SEC series this year, including 4-0 at McKethan Stadium.
· The Gators are 10-1 (.909) in league games at home this spring.
· Making his third start of the season, Aaron Rhodes also matched his career high with six strikeouts.
· Rhodes’ complete-game shutout was the first for a Gator since Jonathon Crawford against Ole Miss (3/30/13).
· Harrison Bader stole his seventh base of the year in the fourth inning, while Casey Turgeon swiped his fourth bag in the fifth.
· Turgeon recorded his 13th multi-hit game and sixth multi-RBI game of his junior campaign.
· Four of Zack Powers’ six career homers have been solo shots.
· Buddy Reed notched his fifth multi-hit game of the season.
· Missouri’s only base hit was a double by Dillon Everett in the second inning just inside of the right-field line.
· Florida will go for its second-consecutive SEC series sweep tomorrow.
The Gators and Tigers will wrap up the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert and will be streamed on GatorVision.
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