Turgeon powers Gators


Florida's Casey Turgeon, left, celebrates with teammate Tyler Thompson (18) after hitting a home run during the second game of the weekend series against William & Mary at McKethan Stadium. The Gators beat the Tribe 5-1 to clinch the series.

Brad McClenny/ Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.

The reminder was there in the aftermath of the collision at the intersection of Stadium and Gale Lemerand Drives, the evidence of how bad it was and how bad it could have been.

Facts

UF baseball

Who: William & Mary (2-4) vs. No. 1 Florida (6-1)
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: McKethan Stadium
Pitchers: UF sophomore right-hander Karsten Whitson (1-0, 3.60) vs. Tribe freshman left-hander Jason Inghram (0-1, 9.00).

“There was a blood puddle there for a couple of days that I had to walk by,” said Casey Turgeon.

He was enjoying his time as a freshman at Florida, driving a scooter to the ball park to drop something off when it happened. An accident tossed Turgeon from his scooter and he wasn't wearing a helmet.

“It was all going so good and, the next thing, I'm in a hospital bed,” he said.




It wasn't until the first day of this year's spring practice that the second baseman felt right. After the accident, he suffered from classic concussion symptoms and missed most of the all-important fall practices.

Yet, there he was as the season began running onto the field as the starter at second base. And there he was on Saturday, hitting his first homer of the season and making a spectacular play up the middle to help lead the No. 1 Gators to a 5-1 win over William & Mary.

“I spent a lot of time in bed,” Turgeon said of the days after his accident. “It made me take a whole new look at baseball. Every day I look back at what happened and I thank God.”

Turgeon hasn't looked like a player who missed all but two at-bats during the fall workouts. He's hitting .385 through seven games with five RBI. His two-run homer in the sixth — Florida's first homer this year that wasn't a solo shot — gave the Gators some breathing room in a tight game.

It's only surprising because of what happened in the fall.

“I'd seen him play so many times, I knew he'd be ready to play,” said Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan. “He's a gamer. He comes from a baseball family. We're lucky to have him. We dodged a bullet with the accident.”

Since the accident, O'Sullivan has required all of his players to wear helmets when they are driving the scooters that are so popular on campus.

On Saturday, Turgeon not only had two hits but ended the top of the eighth with a diving stop of a grounder up the middle and a throw to first to nip Michael Katz with a runner on. Florida improved to 6-1 with the win and will go for the series sweep today.

The Gators finally could celebrate Preston Tucker's milestone on Saturday as well. Tucker's solo homer in the third gave him 215 RBI for his career, one more than previous record-holder Brad Wilkerson.

“I'm very happy for him,” said O'Sullivan. “I know it had been weighing on him. And I know he wanted to do it with a home run.”

Florida also received a second straight strong start from junior Brian Johnson. The left-handed pitcher extended his scoreless streak to 10 innings before giving up a solo homer to Tadd Bower on the first pitch of the seventh inning.

“I was able to locate my fastball and threw a lot of change-ups,” Johnson said.

Daniel Pigott with a sacrifice fly and Taylor Gushue with a double had Florida's other RBIs in the game as a crowd of 4,093 watched at McKethan Stadium.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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