FGCU dominates Gators in series opener
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
One hit spoiled Florida's Friday night. One very big, and very long, hit.
Florida Gulf Coast at No. 13 Florida
When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Radio: AM 850
Brooks Beisner's mammoth three-run home run over the left-field fence in the sixth inning helped power Florida Gulf Coast to an 8-2 victory over the No. 17 Gators (3-3) Friday night at McKethan Stadium.
Beisner's bomb, the Eagles' first hit of the game, was a game changer.
Florida entered the inning with right-handed starter Jonathon Crawford seemingly in complete control, having pitched a no-hitter to that point, and UF leading 1-0.
The game turned in a hurry in the sixth.
After hitting a batter and walking another, Crawford was pulled for reliever Daniel Gibson with one out.
Gibson retired the first batter he faced for the second out. But then he served up an inviting fastball to Beisner, who jumped all over it, launching it into the pine trees in left to drastically change the game and the mood.
“Missed location. Simple as that,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said of Gibson's pitch. “We just missed our spot. Sometimes it comes down to one play, and momentum changes.
“You've got to tip your cap to their hitter. He did a good job. We missed our spot and he took advantage of it.”
Despite the big blow by Beisner, the Gators only trailed 3-2, going into the eighth inning, but the UF bullpen faltered badly.
Parker Danciu gave up three hits and three runs in the eighth, and Aaron Rhodes gave up four hits and two runs in the inning, ending any chance of a late UF comeback.
“(The bullpen) wasn't very good, obviously,” O'Sullivan said. “We've got to develop some depth in our pen and see what they can do. It's just as simple as that.”
O'Sullivan said he was encouraged by Crawford's performance. After struggling in the opener a week ago, Crawford was unhittable through five innings before losing his control to open the decisive sixth.
“I thought he was really good,” O'Sullivan said. “Obviously, pitching five-and-a-third innings and didn't give up any hits. He was doing something right. That one inning, I don't know if he ran a little bit out of gas or what.
“Overall, I thought he pitched much better than he did the first weekend, and it's certainly something to build off of for next Friday.”
After being so dominant through the first five innings, Crawford said he lost his focus at the start of the sixth inning.
He hit leadoff hitter (and No. 9 batter) Alex Diaz with a pitch to start the inning. An out later, he walked Mike Reeves and was pulled from the game.
“I felt good (through the first five innings). I felt in rhythm,” Crawford (0-1) said. “I had my breaking stuff going. I felt good until the sixth inning. I just lost control.”
Conversely, Florida Gulf Coast starter Ricky Knapp (2-0) was in control throughout, pitching a complete game for the victory. He gave up only six hits, struck out four and surrendered no walks.
UF's only runs came on sacrifice flies by first baseman Vickash Ramjit — one in the second inning and another in the seventh to draw UF to within a run at 3-2.
“(Knapp) is a good pitcher. He always throws strikes,” UF cleanup hitter Justin Shafer said. “We knew he was going to come in and pound the zone. We tried to be aggressive, but he got us.”
The UF hitters were taking cuts early against Knapp, rarely trying to make him work deep into the count.
“He throws strikes. He doesn't walk anybody,” O'Sullivan said. “There is no sense in getting deep in the count. He throws three pitches for strikes at anytime.
“If you sit back and wait, it doesn't do you any good. He throws strike after strike.”
The Gators will send freshman right-hander Tucker Simpson (0-0, 4.50) to the mound at 4 p.m. today, while FGCU (3-1) will throw junior left-hander Brandon Bixler (0-0, 0.00).
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.