UF baseball drops 1st series to Miami since 2009
Published: Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 11:35 p.m.
CORAL GABLES – For the first time since 2009, the Florida baseball team has lost a series to the Miami Hurricanes.
The No. 23 Gators (4-3) got two runners picked off the bases and allowed two more home runs – that's five in two days – in a 5-2 loss to the 16th ranked 'Canes (4-2).
Florida trailed 2-0 but battled back to tie it with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth.
In the fifth, Braden Mattson led off with a double off the wall in left-center field and came around to score on Ryan Larson's sacrifice fly. One inning later, Florida loaded the bases with two outs and tied the score on a single to left by Justin Shafer.
Florida's hopes for a big inning, however, ended quickly. Miami brought in freshman reliever Cooper Hammond, a right-hander with a submarine delivery, and he got lefty pinch-hitter Zack Powers to fly out to left to end the threat.
The 'Canes' winning rally started with a leadoff double by David Thompson and a one-out walk to Willie Abreu. With lefty hitter Zack Collins due up, Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan brought in left-hander Danny Young.
Collins, a freshman who at that point was 0 for 17, won the battle, drilling the first pitch on a line, over the fence and out of the park in right field.
“Young's been reliable all last year and this year, and he will be reliable again tomorrow,” O'Sullivan said. “That was just a pitch he would love to have back – he left it out over the middle of the plate.”
Collins became the first Hurricane since Yonder Alonso in 2006 to make his first career hit a home run.
“I never expected him to hit a three-run homer, especially off of Danny, who has been nails all year,” Shafer said of Young, who entered with a 1.00 ERA.
The Gators challenged again in the eighth with a two-on, two-out rally. The 'Canes brought in power-pitching freshman Bryan Garcia, who had a two-inning save on Friday. Florida countered with lefty pinch-hitter A.J. Puk, who hit a soft fly to shortstop Alex Hernandez, who saved a run by making a diving catch on a ball that was slicing away from him.
Florida, hoping to avoid a three-game sweep, will start right-hander Karsten Whitson at 1 p.m. today against Miami left-hander Andrew Suarez.
“We've got to get out of here with a win,” Shafer said. “We can't let that (a sweep) happen.”