The Florida baseball team is now 4-1 on the season after defeating the Ospreys of UNF 8-7 on Tuesday. The Gators used eight different pitchers on the night, four of which were freshman. Ryan Harris got the W for Florida after coming on in relief in the eighth going just two thirds of an inning.
Dane Dunning became the third rookie through the first five games of the 2014 season to start a game on the mound for the Gators. It was a shaky start for Dunning, hitting two of the first four batters he faced.
The 6’3″ freshman was pulled after recording only five outs. Dunning struggled in the top of the second allowing three more men to reach base on two hits and an intentional walk. Dunning served up a wild pitch that allowed James Abbatinozzi to score. After intentionally walking Donnie Dewees, Dunning was replaced by sophomore Aaron Rhodes. With two outs left in the inning, UNFs Trent Higginbothem sent a 1-1 pitch to the outfield clearing the loaded bases giving the Ospreys a 4-0 lead.
It wouldn’t take long for the Orange and Blue to respond. The Florida offense got going in the bottom of the third, where the first three batters reached base courtesy of a walk, hit by pitch, and single from Casey Turgeon that allowed Buddy Reed to score from second base. A run scored on a wild pitch, Peter Alonso drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Braden Mattson singled in another run as Florida tied the score at 4-4.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan knew that the comeback in the third inning would be key.
“I think early in the season when you fall behind early like that – 4-0, it shows the character in your team. They stayed with it and they battled and we scored four (runs) in the bottom of the third to tie it up. We hung with it,” O’Sullivan said.
The score stayed knotted at four until the bottom of the seventh. The Gators took the lead 5-4 on a Taylor Gushue sacrifice fly that scored Richie Martin who had doubled to lead off the inning.
Much like Florida did in the third, the Ospreys were quick to respond to the lead change in the top of the eighth. UNF recorded three runs on two hits in the inning to take a 7-5 lead.
But the Gators responded with three runs in their half of the eighth to win the game. With one out, Mattson singled and pinch-hitter John Sternagel walked but Justin Shafer popped out. Buddy Reed singled to load the bases and two runs came home on an error on a ball hit by Richie Martin and the eventual winning run scored on a base hit by Casey Turgeon.
Freshman Shaun Anderson made his first appearance of the year and closed out the game for the Gators earning the first save of his young collegiate career.
The Gators now look ahead to a three game series against Miami this weekend. Florida has won three straight games going into the series against the Hurricanes.
To hear audio comments about the game, click below.