Gushue to the rescue for UF
Published: Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.
Freshman Taylor Gushue's seventh-inning solo home run proved to be the difference Sunday as No. 1 Florida moved within one game of tying the program's all-time mark for consecutive wins with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Florida Gulf Coast.
The victory before a McKethan Stadium crowd of 3,266 was the 13th in a row for UF (15-1) and gave the Gators their third straight weekend series sweep. The school record for consecutive wins is 14, set in 2001 and duplicated in 2004.
The 15-1 start is the best 16-game mark in UF history, eclipsing the 14-1-1 start by the 1952 squad.
“It was a great weekend for us, but it was a well-played weekend by both teams,” Gator coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “Hopefully this will make us a better club.”
Gushue, whose double in the fifth inning was UF's first hit off FGCU starter Jason Forjet, noted he was just trying to make contact on his game-winning blow, his fourth homer of the season.
“It was two strikes and I saw the slider down and just wanted to put it in play,” he said. “I got under it a little bit, but it ended up going out, so I was happy about that.”
Forjet, a senior right-hander, held the Gators hitless until Gushue's one-out double in the fifth. Fellow freshman Casey Turgeon followed by sending a 2-2 pitch over the right field fence for his second home run of the season to give UF a 2-1 lead.
The Eagles (6-8), who took a 1-0 lead in the third, tied things up in their next at-bat. No. 9 hitter Alex Diaz led off the sixth with a double off UF sophomore starter Jonathon Crawford. Two outs later, Andrew Valencia lined an RBI double to right center to tie the score and end the day for Crawford, who went a career-high 5 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits.
Sophomore left-hander Daniel Gibson (1-0) claimed the win for UF with a career-high, 2 1/3-inning relief stint in which he registered a career-high four strikeouts, and junior closer Austin Maddox earned his team-high fifth save with a perfect ninth.
Forjet (0-2), who allowed just four hits in 6 1/3 innings and had seven strikeouts -- a season-high for an opposing pitcher -- was saddled with the tough loss.
“First of all, I want to congratulate Florida Gulf Coast,” O'Sullivan said. “I thought we saw some really, really quality pitching this weekend. I can't remember the last time we got no-hit through four innings.
“It didn't look promising early-on. He (Forjet) was commanding his pitches, he was executing and he looked very comfortable. But on the flip side, I was awfully proud of our guys hanging in there.”
Florida begins the first of 10 straight Southeastern Conference weekend series when the Gators host SEC East rival Vanderbilt for three games beginning Friday.
First up, though, is instate rival FSU. The No. 8 Seminoles (14-1) will bring a 10-game winning streak to town to tangle with No. 1 UF tomorrow night at 7.
UF has also added a 7 p.m. exhibition game Wednesday against the Ontario Blue Jays that will be free of charge.
On the injury front, O'Sullivan said not to read too much into sophomore starter Karsten Whitson, who has not pitched since going just two-thirds of an inning against William and Mary on Feb. 25, missing his second straight weekend series.
“Karsten's arm is feeling fine,” O'Sullivan noted. “There's just no reason to rush him back. He's feeling much, much better.”