Florida slips past UConn to take series
Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8:46 p.m.
Forgive Connecticut reliever David Mahoney if he had one of those 'Want to get away?' moments Saturday at McKethan Stadium.
The left-hander was summoned from the bullpen with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 1-1 tie and proceeded to hit Florida's Zack Powers with his first pitch to force in freshman Buddy Reed with the game-winning run as the Gators (9-6) posted their second extra-inning, one-run decision over the Huskies (4-7) in as many days to clinch the three-game series.
Reed, UF's No. 9 hitter who came into the game batting just .167, led off the final inning with his second hit of the game, stole second, advanced to third on Richie Martin's bunt single, and scored the decisive run after an intentional walk to Casey Turgeon, the last batter faced by Huskies' reliever Max Slade, loaded the bases for the left-hand hitting Powers.
“If feels great, going up there with a good approach like coach always says,” Reed said. “I guess I was a little bit anxious at first seeing the ball and everything, but I've slowed down everything and I can see the ball better.”
The Huskies broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth on Vinny Siena's two-out, RBI single that plated teammate Ryan Sullivan with the game's first run, UConn's first of the series.
The Gators, who won for the third straight time to match their season-high, answered in their half of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Reed and Martin with one out to knot the score, and from there it was all goose eggs for both squads until the UF 10th.
Reed and Martin each had two hits to account for four of six Florida hits in the win, while Siena had two of the Huskies' seven hits.
After combining to leave 22 men on base in Friday's 1-0, 11-inning UF win, the two squads combined to strand 19 Saturday.
Seven UF pitchers, meanwhile, combined to strike out a season-high 16 batters, led by a career-high seven by freshman A.J. Puk, who went 4 1/3 innings and threw 75 pitches in his second career start.
“The way we've been swinging the bats, it seems like you're managing the game differently,” coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “It's like we can't wait around. We can't let guys work through things because we don't want to fall behind by a couple of runs.”
Every UF pitcher recorded at least one strikeout including a big one by freshman lefty and former Santa Fe High School standout Kirby Snead, who fanned Connecticut's Bryan Daniello on a 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh.
Bobby Poyner (2-2), the last UF pitcher, picked up the win by retiring the Huskies in order in the top of the 10th.
Connecticut starter Anthony Marzi threw 93 pitches over an impressive 7 1/3-inning stint, allowing just four hits and one run before giving way to Slade (0-1), who was saddled with the loss.
The teams close things out today at 1 p.m., with the Gators expected to send redshirt junior Karsten Whitson (1-0) to the mound in search of their first series sweep of the season.
“We're going to do everything we need to do to win, and the bottom line is the offense is going to come around,” O'Sullivan said. “I'm going to keep saying it, and I believe it. This is a mental game, and they've got to get going.”
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