Florida Baseball Keeps Winning Streak Alive
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) snapped a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the sixth inning and Florida (20-18) added three more runs in the seventh inning to post a 5-3 victory over FGCU (20-13) on Tuesday night in front of 4,525 spectators at Hammond Stadium, the home of the Fort Myers Miracle and the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins.
Sophomore left-hander Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) (1-0) permitted one run and four hits over a career-high 5.1 innings to lift the Gators to their sixth-consecutive victory, while sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (2-for-4) delivered a two-run double in the seventh, senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) (2-for-4) chipped in with a two-out RBI single in the seventh and sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) went 2-for-5. Sophomore Johnny Magliozzi(East Milton, Mass.) had three strikeouts over the final 1.2 innings to secure his ninth save in 10 opportunities this season. The Gators overcame five errors, leading to two unearned runs, in downing the Eagles in the teams’ fourth meeting of the campaign.
Sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) opened the game with a single into shallow center field off of senior Danny Patrick but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Gushue drew a two-out walk and advanced to third on Shafer’s team-leading 14th double. Patrick kept the Gators scoreless by having redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) fly out to center field.
In the home part of the inning, freshman Nick Rivera opened the scoring for FGCU with a two-out RBI single into left field. Freshman Tyler Selesky (2-for-4) had led off with a single into center field and was sacrificed over by senior Mike Reeves. Poyner had junior Sean Dwyer fly out to left for the second out but then had a wild pitch that pushed Selesky to third base. Junior Brandon Bednar was hit by a pitch to give the Eagles runners on the corners and Rivera broke the ice with a base-knock into left. However, the Gators threw out Bednar trying to take third on the play to complete the inning.
Florida loaded the bases with one down in the fourth and tied the contest on an RBI single by freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.). Shafer started the frame with a base-hit into left field and Powers followed with a single into center field for Gators on the corners with none out, prompting a pitching change. Senior RJ Brown replaced Patrick (3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and had Ramjit pop up in foul territory behind first base. Bader delivered a single into left field to bring across Shafer with the tying run but Brown worked out of the jam by having senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) hit into an inning-ending 3-2 double play.
Tobias gave the Gators a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. Powers worked a four-pitch walk with one down and Ramjit sliced a single through the right side of the infield. Tobias launched a long single into left center to score Powers and give the visitors runners on first and third with one down. FGCU turned an inning-ending 5-2-6-5 double play to hold its deficit at one run.
Dwyer reached on a one-out fielding error by Ramjit in the bottom of the stanza, prompting a pitching change, as sophomore Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) came in for Poyner. Over a career-high 5.1 innings, Poyner yielded four hits, tied his career-best of four strikeouts and allowed one run. A fielder’s choice by Bednar forced Dwyer for the second out and Bednar moved into scoring position with his fifth stolen base. Harris induced a grounder by Rivera to preserve UF’s lead.
The Gators tacked on three more runs in the seventh, highlighted by a two-run double by Gushue and two-out RBI single by Ramjit, to expand the count to 5-1. Dent and Turgeon earned consecutive walks to begin the inning and junior Harrison Cooney was summoned to replace Brown (3.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 4 BB). The right-hander struck out freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) and Gushue cleared the bases with his ninth two-bagger of the season down the right-field line. Shafer reached on an error and a fielder’s choice by Powers erased Shafer at second and moved Gushue to third with two out. Ramjit increased the Gators’ margin to four runs when he poked a 2-2 offering through the left side of the infield.
Redshirt senior Brooks Beisner was plunked to begin FGCU’s seventh and Harris caught sophomore Michael Suchy looking on strikes. Harris mishandled freshman Colton Bottomley’s grounder for an error and then had an errant throw that allowed Beisner to reach third base. A sacrifice fly by junior Andrew Valencia narrowed the gap to 5-2 and junior Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) replaced Harris (1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER). The southpaw yielded a single into left center by Selesky and jammed Reeves on an infield fly to complete the frame.
After Gibson (0.1 IP, 1 H) fanned Dwyer to start the Eagles’ eighth, Magliozzi took the mound. The right-hander struck out Bednar for the second out and issued a walk to Rivera. Beisner’s fly ball to right field was dropped, allowing Rivera to reach third base, and Suchy’s fly ball to center field was misplayed, enabling FGCU to pull within, 5-3. Magliozzi had a fielder’s choice end the stanza.
With the Eagles down to their final three outs, Magliozzi worked a perfect ninth and notched a pair of strikeouts to send the Gators home winners. Florida had an 11-5 advantage in hits.
The Gators return to SEC play on Friday night with their first-ever trip to Missouri (12-20/4-11 SEC). The game will begin at 7 p.m. ET and can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell. Live audio and stats will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball program.
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