The Florida baseball team uses a career day from Zack Powers to defeat Duke 16-5 Sunday to win the rubber game of a three game opening season series in Gaineville.
Duke took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on Gator starting pitcher Justin Shafer, but the Gators answered in the bottom of the inning with a two run double by catcher Taylor Gushue. The Blue Devils regained the lead in the top of the fourth on a Gushue throwing error allowing Duke’s Andy Perez to score.
In the sixth inning, Florida found its hitting shoes. The Gators scored four runs on five hits to take a 6-3 lead. The Orange and Blue loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, and redshirt sophomore Zack Powers unloaded them connecting on a fastball for his first career home run over the wall in right center field, giving Florida a 10-3 lead.
Duke answered in the top of the eighth cutting the deficit to 10-5, but Florida sealed the win with a six run inning sparked by Cody Dent’s leadoff walk and highlighted by Powers’ second grand slam of the game.
Powers finished the day 2-for-3 with the two grand slams and 9 RBI, one short of the Gator single game record. He joined Preston Tucker as the lone Gators to belt two grand slams in one game.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan then sent out freshman righty Eric Hanhold to pitch a one, two, three ninth inning with two strikeouts. O’Sullivan believes the bullpen stepped up this weekend against Duke, but said the starting rotation needs to throw more strikes.
Right-hander Ryan Harris got the win after tossing 2.2 innings in relief, and he said the team learned their identify from the opening series.
Next up for the Gators is UCF (2-1) on the road Tuesday night. Florida will be back at the Mac on Wednesday when Georgia Southern (2-1) visits Gainesville.