UF BASEBALL

Maryland holds off Florida rally to even series


Published: Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.

On opening night, it went exactly as planned on the mound for Florida’s baseball team. One day later, not so much.

Maryland scored a run an inning, slamming 13 hits and two home runs off six UF pitchers and hung on to win the second game of the series 9-7 Saturday.

“It’s disappointing,” said Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “We made some young mistakes, especially on a couple of 0-2 counts.”

The Gators (1-1) trailed 6-0 before rallying to make it interesting, getting the tying run to third base in the eighth before freshman Ryan Larson struck out swinging against Maryland closer Kevin Mooney.

“I was excited that we swung the bats better (late in the game),” O’Sullivan said. “Even that experience Ryan had in the eighth will help us down the road.”

Florida has now played eight freshmen in two games along with two junior college transfers in their first seasons at Florida.

“Even though we came out on the losing end, it was good because we got a lot of freshmen in there,” said catcher Taylor Gushue, who had two of Florida’s seven hits. “Experience trumps everything you can tell a person. So it wasn’t a total loss.”

Freshman Brett Morales struggled mightily in his 3 1/3 innings of work, allowing five runs on five hits to a Maryland team that was shut out the night before on three hits.

Gushue said it wasn’t nerves that bothered Morales.

“He’s an unemotional dude,” Gushue said. “I guess he just didn’t have his best stuff.”

The killer for Morales was a double down the right-field line by Maryland catcher Kevin Martir on an 0-2 pitch in the first inning to plate the first two Maryland runs.

Maryland’s freshman pitcher Mike Shawaryn was much more effective on the mound, allowing only three hits in 5 2/3 innings. One of those was a misplayed pop-up off the bat of A.J. Puk.

“We just came out of the gates slow,” Gushue said. “I don’t think we swung the bats aggressively the first five innings.”

After Shawaryn left the game with two on and two out and the 6-0 lead, Florida scored on a wild pitch, an error and pinch-hitter Braden Mattson’s single.

But the Terps (1-1) responded by scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. In fact, they scored a run in each of the last four innings.

Down 8-4 in the eighth with two outs and nobody on, Florida loaded the bases on a hit batter, a walk and an infield single by freshman John Sternagel. Buddy Reed then blooped a single to left, his first hit as a Gator, to make it 8-6.

“I’m glad I got the hit, but I’m disappointed in the loss,” Reed said.

Richie Martin’s single to right pulled the Gators within a run. But Mooney got Larson to swing at a 3-2 pitch off the plate to end the inning.

Brandon Lowe’s solo homer in the ninth gave the Terps an insurance run.

The two teams play the rubber game of the series today at noon.

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