Crawford tosses two-hit shutout as UF pulls even
Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
Behind pitcher Jonathon Crawford's best outing of the year and some timely hitting Saturday, Florida knocked off No. 11 Ole Miss 7-0 before a McKethan Stadium crowd of 3,668, evening the weekend series at one win apiece.
Mississippi at Florida, 1 p.m., SUN Sports, AM-850/900
Crawford, a junior and preseason All-American who had struggled to an 0-4 start, tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout and struck out a season-high eight batters as the Gators (12-16, 3-5) ended a four-game losing streak with a big SEC win.
“It was nothing miraculously different; he (Crawford) just located better today,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “I thought he attacked a little bit more, and his misses were small. He didn't miss in the middle of the plate, which he'd been doing the last couple of weeks.”
Crawford (1-4), who was consistently in the 93-94 mph range on his fastball, threw 106 pitches in earning the victory.
“I felt really comfortable,” he said. “I had my fastball and my slider going. I had a lot of confidence in my stuff, so I just went out there and attacked.”
The Gators had the same number of hits (10) as in a 4-3, 11-inning loss Friday, but were much more efficient. Seven of UF's nine batters cracked the hit column, led by senior Vickash Ramjit (3-for-4) and freshman Harrison Bader (2-for-4). UF left just three runners stranded after having left 11 men on base in the series opener.
Florida jumped on Rebels' starter and loser Mike Mayers (2-3) for three runs on four hits in the second inning, with the big blow a two-run, one-out double by sophomore Mike Fahrman, his first career hit.
“It was huge,” Crawford said. “It's always great to pitch with the lead. It just takes a lot of pressure off you.”
Crawford was only in trouble twice against the Rebels (23-5, 4-4), the first coming in the fourth inning when Tanner Mathis hit a leadoff single and Auston Bousfield reached on an error.
But Ramjit, UF's first baseman, started a key 1-6-3 double play on Austin Anderson's grounder, and Crawford struck out cleanup batter Stuart Turner on a 3-2 slider to end the threat.
After retiring the first two hitters in the sixth, Crawford issued his only two walks of the game, sandwiched around a single by Bousfield, to load the bases with Turner, the SEC's leading hitter (.444) due up. But Crawford struck him out for the second straight at-bat on another slider, this one on a 1-2 offering, to keep Ole Miss scoreless.
“It was a big pitch,” O'Sullivan said. “It was one of those money pitches that decide the game. It was probably his best breaking ball of the season, to be honest with you.”
The fired-up Gators responded by scoring three times in the bottom of the inning, chasing Mayers in the process.
Bader led off with a solo home run, the first of his career, and UF added two more runs on Zack Powers' RBI single and Conner Mitchell's RBI groundout to build a 6-0 lead.
The Gators closed out the scoring in the seventh off reliever Jeremy Massie, with Taylor Gushue's one-out, RBI double scoring Casey Turgeon.
“It was a good game,” O'Sullivan said. “It was probably one of our more complete games pitching-wise, defensively and offensively.”
The teams will meet in the rubber game of the series today at 1 p.m.