The Florida Gator baseball team will enter Sunday?s rubber match after falling to the Maryland Terrapins 9-7 Saturday evening.
The Terrapins came out swinging, scoring two quick runs in the first inning off of Florida?s right-hander Brett Morales. Morales?s debut was only good for just over three innings, as he allowed five hits and five runs. ?Three of his freshman teammates also made their collegiate debut, including A.J. Puk, Kirby Snead, and Dane Dunning. ?Head Coach Kevin O?Sullivan did not hesitate to use his options in the bullpen, using six pitchers total.
O?Sullivan took tonight?s loss as an opportunity for the younger players to experience how to handle pressure in key situations.
?We obviously didn?t get off to a great start on the mound but they?re young and they?ll learn. The positive that we?ll pull out of tonight is that they battled back. Those experiences will help them down the road,? O?Sullivan said.
Maryland built a 6-0 lead behind freshman right-hander Mike Shawaryn, making his debut for Maryland, holding a shutout into the sixth?inning for the Terps. It wasn?t until then that the Gators put their first run on the board, benefitting from a bases loaded situation. Junior infielder Casey Turgeon scored on a two-out wild pitch, followed by an error from Maryland?s third baseman that plated Florida?s second run. Newcomer Braden Mattson also contributed to the rally with an RBI single. However, junior infielder Josh Tobias went down swinging, leaving two men on.
The Gators made a second attempt at a rally in the bottom of the eighth. Freshman Buddy Reed came up with the bases loaded, hitting a shallow two-run single to left field, marking the first hit in his young college career. Richie Martin followed with an RBI single to right, narrowing the Gator deficit to 8-7.
But the Terps added an insurance run and the Gators went down quietly in the ninth inning as both teams now stand 1-1.
Florida catcher Taylor Gushue credited Shawaryn in his start, saying he gave the Gators trouble early on.
?It is difficult when you don?t come out of the gates and be aggressive, but it?s understandable. We were just trying to get our timing down and trying to see what he was trying to do as a pitcher?trying to get his pitch count up and see what he had. I would attribute our lack of aggression to that and not able to score runs the first five innings.?
Florida and Maryland close out the series tomorrow afternoon. Redshirt junior Karsten Whitson will take the mound for the Gators, opposing Terp sophomore Jared Price.
You can hear the game live on Country 103-7 The Gator starting at?11:55 am.
To hear audio comments from players and coaches, click the links below.
Junior Catcher Taylor Gushue
Freshman LHP A.J. Puk
Gators Head Coach?Kevin O’Sullivan