Fast start carries Kentucky to series win at UF
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
The growing pains for a young Florida baseball team continued Sunday as 10th-ranked Kentucky jumped out to a 5-0 lead and went on to take the rubber game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series with the Gators by a 6-2 score before a crowd of 3,284.
North Florida at Florida, Tuesday, 7 p.m.
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The series win was the first for the Wildcats (16-3, 2-1) at McKethan Stadium since 1999 and only their fourth in history in Gainesville (1973, 1975).
Meanwhile the Gators (9-12, 1-2), who won the series opener Friday, lost for the fourth time in their last five outings to fall to 7-12 at home.
“We're just making mistakes that we continue to talk about over and over,” head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “The bottom line is we've just got to keep preaching and keep coaching and keep working these guys to get better.”
A second-inning, three-run home run by Michael Thomas off UF freshman starter Eric Hanhold (0-2), who made it through just 3 2/3 innings before being pulled, staked UK junior All-American lefty Corey Littrell to an early lead, and the Wildcats added single runs in the third and fourth to go up 5-0.
UF finally got on the scoreboard with a single run in the fifth on senior Vickash Ramjit's two-out RBI single, but otherwise Littrell, who allowed 10 hits in eight innings of work en route to improving to 3-0 on the season, was able to escape damage with the help of seven timely strikeouts.
Kentucky added a run in the eighth on Matt Reida's RBI single to extend the lead to 6-1 before UF plated the final run of the game in the ninth on sophomore Justin Shafer's two-out RBI single.
“Credit Littrell,” O'Sullivan said. “He's a really good pitcher, one of the better pitchers in our league, and obviously he showed that today.”
Despite out-hitting the Wildcats for the third straight game, UF came up short in the stat that matters most — runs scored — for the second time in a row.
The Gators recorded 13 hits in the loss — all singles — but only got back-to-back hits in the fifth and ninth innings, when they scored their only runs of the game.
Junior Daniel Gibson was a bright spot for UF, tossing a career-high 3 1/3 innings of no-hit relief before leaving in the seventh after taking over for Hanhold.
“I thought Gibson threw the ball really good,” O'Sullivan said.
Austin Cousino, A. J. Reed, J. T. Riddle and Reida all had two hits to lead a 12-hit attack for the Wildcats, while Shafer, who was hitless in the first two games of the series, led all hitters with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate.
Casey Turgeon, Zack Powers and Connor Mitchell each added a pair of hits for UF, which faces North Florida (15-6) Tuesday at 7 p.m. to close out the current homestand before heading to face No. 2 Vanderbilt (19-2, 3-0) in Nashville over the weekend.
“We are just going to continue to work hard,” O'Sullivan said. “That's all we can do.”