The Florida Gator baseball team wrapped up its season opening series on Sunday with an 8-5 win over Maryland, taking two of three games in the series.
Both teams got off to a sluggish start on the mound as Florida’s starting pitcher Karsten Whitson allowed three runs on three hits in the top of the first. Whitson, who missed all of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury, lasted only two innings before sophomore Eric Hanhold was put in for relief.
Hanhold got the win, throwing three innings of scoreless relief and that pleased Gator head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
“I thought (Eric) Hanhold kept things kind of at bay but you have got to credit Maryland hitters; they were scrappy. They were hard to strike out and they competed obviously, all the way to the last out of the game there.”
The Terrapins weren’t able to squeeze any success out of their starter either as Florida responded to Maryland’s three three run first with a rally of their own in the second. Maryland starter sophomore Jared Price went one and two thirds innings, giving up five runs on only one hit while walking five.
Florida struck with another big inning in the fifth that started off with a Braden Mattson walk. Shortly after, freshman AJ Puk doubled down the right field line driving in his first collegiate run, giving the Gators a 6-3 lead. The Gator bats continued to shell Maryland’s junior relief pitcher Bobby Ruse, scoring two more runs on a two out RBI double from shortstop Richie Martin. Martin stole third and came home on a throwing error while he was trying to steal.
Martin was proud of the way the team fought back after trailing early in the contest.
“We fell down 3-0 in the first inning, but we bounced right back and scored a run right there. We swung the bats well and it was a great team win. It was great to get the series.”
Florida was able to fend off a couple Maryland rallies late in the game as the Terrapins scored one run in the sixth and another in the eighth. Gator junior Ryan Harris came into the game with one out left in the eighth to get the save and close out the Terrapins. The ball game ended after that due to Maryland’s traveling circumstances.
The Gators now look ahead to Tuesday’s game against UCF and UNF on Wednesday. Both match ups are home at McKethan Stadium.
To hear audio comments from players and coaches, click the links below.
Sophomore Infielder Richie Martin
Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan