Florida Baseball Locks up Outright SEC Title
Published May 16th, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Florida secured the outright SEC Championship and clinched its weekend series with a 4-2 win over Tennessee on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Holding a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, the No. 13 Gators (37-18/21-8 SEC) received a two-run, pinch-hit single by junior Josh Tobias with the bases loaded and two down for some breathing room. Although the Vols (30-22/11-18) trimmed the deficit to 4-2 in the home part of the frame, freshman Kirby Snead (2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R) pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many nights.
Freshman A.J. Puk (5-2) pitched five innings of one-run ball to earn his fourth win in SEC play, while junior Taylor Gushue was 3-for-4 with two doubles. The Gators have captured their last six series against Tennessee and extended their road winning streak to eight games, second-longest in school history (record of nine set in 1922).
Gushue plated junior Casey Turgeon with a two-out double in the first inning to open the scoring against senior Nick Williams (5-5). Turgeon had opened the game with a double down the left-field line and was sacrificed over by sophomore Richie Martin before Gushue’s team-leading 14th two-bagger and 43rd RBI.
Senior Taylor Smart (2-for-4) tied the game for the Vols with a leadoff homer in the second that hit the foul pole overlooking left field. It was his second of the series and fourth round-tripper of the year.
The Gators seized a 2-1 advantage in the sixth on an RBI grounder by junior Zack Powers. Sophomore Harrison Bader walked and Gushue singled and each advanced into scoring position on a bunt by junior Braden Mattson. Powers’ ground ball to second base brought Bader home.
Tennessee threatened by putting two runners aboard in the seventh but was foiled by an inning-ending strikeout by Snead. Junior Justin Shafer (1.2 IP) registered the first two outs of the stanza before yielding an infield single to sophomore Derek Lance. After Snead entered and issued a walk to Maddox, the lefty caught sophomore Christin Stewart looking on a full count to complete the frame.
Tobias delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single with the bases full in the eighth to give the Gators a 4-1 edge. Gushue led off with a double and was sacrificed to third by freshman pinch hitter Ryan Larson. An error on the play enabled UF to have two runners aboard. A fielder’s choice by Powers erased Larson, freshman Peter Alonso walked and Powers was called for interference on a fielder’s choice by freshman Buddy Reed for two down. Tobias stepped to the plate and sliced a base-hit through the left side that scored Gushue and Alonso.
Sophomore A.J. Simcox brought the Vols within 4-2 in the home part of the inning with a two-out single that plated sophomore Vincent Jackson.
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