Sophomore Aaron Rhodes (5-2) threw a one-hit, complete-game shutout for the No. 12 Florida Gators, who beat Missouri, 5-0 on Saturday to extend their record to 10-1 in league games at home this spring.
Rhodes dominated with 102 pitches and matching his career high with six strikeouts; the only hit he allowed would come in the second inning on a double from Tiger senior Dillon Everett. However, Rhodes pitched a complete game shutout, the first complete game of the year for Florida as well and the first complete game shutout since Jonathon Crawford against Ole Miss (3/30/13).
Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan says Rhodes continues to improve.
“I thought he got better as the game went on. I thought the ninth inning was as good of an inning as he threw all day. I’m really proud of the way he threw the ball today,” says O’Sullivan.
Rhodes says despite the one hit he gave up, he still feels on cloud nine.
“It feels really good. I don’t remember the last time I’ve thrown a complete game, not even in summer ball. It probably goes back to high school so it’s definitely a good feeling,” explains Rhodes.
The Gators got things started in the second inning, taking a 1-0 advantage. Junior Taylor Gushue started off for the Orange and Blue with a single to center and he advanced to scoring position after a wild pitch. Gushue then advanced to third after a grounder from junior Braden Mattson, who reached on a throwing error from the second baseman. Junior Zack Powers grounded into a double play, but Gushue was able to score.
Florida struck again in the fifth, taking a 3-0 lead, with the help of a couple of errors from Missouri. Freshman Peter Alonso reached on a one-out walk, followed by a single to right field from freshman Buddy Reed (2-for-3, two runs). Freshman John Sternagel hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing Alonso at third, but a wild throw allowed Reed to score. Another error from right field on a relay throw home enabled Sternagel to advance to third base. Junior Casey Turgeon (2-for-4, two RBI) rounded things off with an RBI single through a gap on the right side of the infield to score Sternagel.
The Gators struck once and for all in the seventh, starting with a solo shot from Powers over the right field wall. Four of Power’s six career homers have been solo shots. Reed then followed with a bunt single to first base and he advanced to third on a pinch-hit single up the middle from Josh Tobias. Turgeon drove in a run on a bunt single, allowing Reed to score.
O’Sullivan says he is pleased with his team’s performance.
“I think the big at bat during the day was the two-out single in the fifth by (Casey) Turgeon to put us up three runs instead of just two. We scrapped today; we clawed. They used five pitchers. We got their best bullpen guy into the game. Overall, I’m very pleased with how we played today,” says O’Sullivan.
Florida will go for their second-consecutive SEC series sweep Sunday at 1pm.