Baseball Wins in Extra Innings, Sweeps Missouri
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Freshman Ryan Larson (Orlando, Fla.) delivered the game-winning single with two out in the 10th inning to lift No. 12 Florida (30-15/15-6 SEC) to a 6-5 victory over Missouri (19-24/6-15 SEC) and a sweep of the weekend series on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Gators’ eighth-consecutive win in league play gives them a two-game lead in the SEC race over No. 18 Alabama (29-15/13-8 SEC) and No. 13 Ole Miss (33-12/13-8 SEC). UF visits the Crimson Tide next weekend.
Missouri sophomore righty Peter Fairbanks (4-5) retired the first two Gators in the 10h inning before junior Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-5) singled up the middle. After Powers moved into scoring position with his first stolen base of the season, the Tigers intentionally walked freshman A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Larson (2-for-2) stepped to the plate and roped a single into center field that brought Powers across with the winning run. UF improved to 6-2 in extra-inning games and boosted their record to 12-6 in one-run contests this year. Junior left-hander Bobby Poyner (4-3) worked four scoreless innings, scattering two hits, to collect the victory.
The Tigers put their first two runners of the game aboard against sophomore left-hander Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) but came away empty-handed. Redshirt senior Eric Anderson (2-for-5, two RBI) reached on an error and junior Brett Peel was hit by a pitch, however, Young had senior Dillon Everett hit into a 4-6-3 double play and senior Dylan Kelly ground out to first base.
Florida grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the inning on a ground-rule RBI double by junior Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (2-for-5) and an RBI grounder by junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas). With one down, sophomore Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) drew a walk and sophomore Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) was hit by a pitch from junior starter John Miles. Gushue roped his team-leading 13th double to right field to bring home Martin and Mattson plated Bader with a ground ball to shortstop.
Missouri used a two-out rally in the second inning to take a 3-2 advantage. Young retired the first two batters of the frame before walking junior Jake Ivory and yielding a single into left center by senior Kendall Keeton (3-for-5) that gave the Tigers runners on the corners. Freshman Jake Ring singled up the middle to cut the deficit in half and Anderson moved the visitors in front with a double down the left-field line that prompted a pitching change. Sophomore Eric Hanhold (Palm Harbor, Fla.) replaced Young (1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R) and walked Peel before Missouri executed a double steal for two runners in scoring position. The right-hander had Everett fly out to end the frame.
The Gators answered with the tying run in the home part of the inning on an RBI single by freshman John Sternagel (Rockledge, Fla.) after freshman Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) had reached on a one-out error and stole second base.
A leadoff single in the fourth by Keeton brought Puk in for Hanhold (1.1 IP, 2 H). Ring advanced his teammate with a sacrifice bunt and a grounder by Anderson nudged Keeton to third base before Puk struck out Peel.
Everett started the fifth with a double down the left-field line and moved to third on a wild pitch before a double to left field by Kelly gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead. Junior Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) took over for Puk (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R) and retired Howard on a fly ball before uncorking a wild pitch that moved Kelly to third base. Shafer rebounded to strike out sophomore Josh Lester and had Ivory ground out to preserve the 4-3 count.
Missouri added another run in the sixth inning to take a 5-3 lead. Shafer recorded the first two outs before yielding a flare into center field by Anderson. After a wild push moved Anderson to second, a throwing error on Peel’s infield hit by Sternagel enabled Anderson to score.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Gators knotted the game at 5-5 and had the bases full with one out but could not pull ahead. Martin led off with a bunt single and went to third on a throwing error on the play by Howard and Bader followed with an RBI single up the middle to narrow the gap to 5-4. Gushue stroked a single into right center that pushed Bader to third and the Tigers summoned sophomore Breckin Williams for Miles (5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER). Mattson tied the game with a base-knock up the middle and a sacrifice attempt by Powers instead forced Gushue at third base for the first out. A single into left field by Puk loaded the bases with one down and junior Keaton Steele replaced Williams (0.1 IP, 2 H). The right-hander had junior pinch hitter Mike Fahrman (Tampa, Fla.) ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to keep the game tied.
Florida loaded the bases again in the seventh with one out but was unable to score. Sternagel and Turgeon drew consecutive walks to start the frame and were sacrificed over on Martin’s sixth sacrifice bunt of the campaign. Bader was plunked to fill the bags with one down and Steele had Gushue hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Keeton reached on an error by Martin to begin the eighth and was bunted over to second base by Ring. Poyner had Anderson fly to center field and Peel ground out to keep the contest tied.
Larson led off the Gators’ ninth with a single up the middle and Sternagel laid down a bunt before Turgeon was walked intentionally. Although a fly ball into right field by Martin advanced Larson to third base, Bader flew out to center field to provide the fans with free baseball.
In the 10th, Ivory walked with one down and Keeton followed with a single through the left side of the infield. Poyner escaped the jam by having Ring hit into a 4-6-3 double play.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On outfielder Ryan Larson’s game-winning hit in the 10th inning:
“I’m really happy for Ryan. He’s worked awfully hard. That’s a tough position to be in. Obviously, it was a frustrating game in a lot of ways. We had some opportunities, but, all in all, I was proud of the way we battled today. We didn’t strike out at all today and I think we only had one strikeout yesterday. We battled at the plate and I’m really happy for Ryan. He had two good at-bats and got on base twice. That’s not an easy situation to come into and be able to hold your composure and put a good swing on the ball. That’s really all you’re looking for. You’re not necessarily looking for somebody to get a hit. You just want to get a good at-bat and I thought it was a really good at-bat.”
On the team’s success with extra-inning games (6-2):
“We have a lot of pitching depth, and when you get to a game like today we run some pretty good arms out there. I think that if we could just keep it close on the pitching side of things, offensively we will end up getting a run. I think that we have a little bit more depth than most people.”
Freshman outfielder Ryan Larson
On his game-winning hit:
“It was awesome. It was a great feeling to end it there. I knew coming up (to bat) with two outs, it was either now or never. It was great.”
On his role off the bench:
“It was cool to get an at bat. I knew (Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan) had the confidence in me at the end. I know I’ve been coming off for defensive plays, but whatever I have to do to help the team win, I’m going to do.”
Junior first baseman Zack Powers
On scoring the game-winning run:
“That’s awesome for a freshman to come out and help us get a sweep by getting his first walk-off (hit) here. He did a great job staying with his approach.”
On his at bat in the 10th inning:
“I was thinking I just had to get on base. I did take a couple of hacks at the ball, but I tried my best to not strike out and to just get a runner on. I ended up battling and hitting one right up the middle.”
Junior left-hander Bobby Poyner
On Ryan Larson’s game-winning hit:
“That was great. That’s college baseball and a lot of energy. (Ryan) Larson came up huge there. It was only a matter of time. Larson did it, and we couldn’t be happier.”
On his pitching today to close out the game:
“It was hot; it was a long day. I was just trying to make pitches to keep us in the ballgame and keep them from scoring. I knew if I kept it at a 5-5 score, we would be alright.”
· The Gators improved to 6-2 in extra innings and are now 12-6 in one-run games.
· Florida scored first in all three games of the series.
· Taylor Gushue’s ground-rule double in the first inning gave him a team-leading 36 RBI. He collected his team-leading 16th multiple-hit game of the year.
· Zack Powers raised his hitting streak to nine games with a one-out single in the fourth inning and scored the game-winning run.
· The Orange and Blue has captured eight-straight SEC games and now leads the league by two games following Alabama’s 9-3 loss at South Carolina.
· UF is 5-2 in league series this season.
· In conference games this season at home, the Gators are 11-1. UF has not dropped a home conference game since March 16 against Arkansas (9-3).
· UF improved to 21-8 at McKethan Stadium and finished 11-6 in the month of April.
· Ryan Larson’s game-winning RBI was his fourth of the season. Florida has eight last-at-bat wins this year.
· Larson went 2-for-2 after entering the game to start the seventh and recorded his third career multi-hit game.
· Powers extended his hitting streak to a career-matching nine games. Powers now has three multi-hit games this year
· Bobby Poyner earned his fourth win of the season after scattering two hits and allowing zero runs in four innings of work. He has not allowed a run in 8.2 innings of work.
· The Gators were aggressive on the basepaths, going a perfect 2-for-2 in stolen base opportunities. Powers’ first steal of the year set up the Gators’ game-winning play.
· Braden Mattson drove in a pair of runs and now has six multi-RBI games as a Gator.
· UF did not strike out this afternoon for the first time this season.
· Richie Martin and Harrison Bader each scored a pair of runs. Martin leads the team with 35 runs scored.
The Gators will return to action on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Tuscaloosa for the opener of a three-game series with No. 18 Alabama (29-15/13-8 SEC). The contest will be carried on CSS, Channels 1259 HD and 259 on Cox Communications Cable in Gainesville.
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