Turgeon's grand slam helps Gators defeat Redbirds
Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 12:05 a.m.
A seven-run, eighth-inning explosion capped by Casey Turgeon's first career grand slam carried Florida to its season-high fifth win in a row as the Gators defeated Illinois State, 13-5, Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium.
“I didn't think I hit it very well, but you never know,” said Turgeon, whose homer was his first of the year.
The Gators (11-6), who set a season-high for runs scored, broke on top in the bottom of the third when Josh Tobias led off the inning by lining the first pitch he saw from Redbirds' starter J. D. Learnard into the left-field corner for a double, then moved to third on freshman Buddy Reed's sacrifice bunt, his team-leading sixth of the season.
A passed ball with Richie Martin at the plate allowed Tobias to slide home with the game's first run, but there was more damage to be done. Martin eventually singled, and Learnard hit Turgeon with a pitch to put two men on with one out.
After freshman Peter Alonso flew out to deep left, catcher Taylor Gushue ripped a two-out double just inside the right-field line that plated both runners and gave UF an early 3-0 lead.
The Redbirds (8-5) threatened in their next at-bat, loading the bases with two outs off UF freshman starter Brett Morales, but the right-hander snuffed the rally by striking out Brock Stewart on a 3-2 fastball.
After allowing a lead-off single to the Redbirds' Sean Beesley in the fifth, who later scored Illinois State's first run, Morales gave way to lefty reliever Danny Young, finishing off a career-high, 4 1/3-inning starting stint by allowing just four hits while striking out a career-high five hitters.
Florida answered the Redbirds' run with another three-spot in the sixth, with Alonso driving in Martin, who reached on an error, and Braden Mattson adding a two-out, two-run homer, his first as a Gator, into the left-field bleachers to make it 6-1.
The homers by Mattson and Turgeon doubled the Gators' output this year, as they entered the game with only two, both off the bat of Gushue.
“We got a good start from Brett, and it was nice to see the bats come around,” Mattson said.
Illinois State batted around in the top of the eighth, combining five hits and two walks to score four times before UF escaped with a one-run lead when reliever Eric Hanhold, the fifth Gator pitcher of the inning, retired the Redbirds' Paul Dejong, who had started the inning with a single, on a grounder to short with the bases loaded and two outs.
The Gators then put the game on ice with their eighth-inning outburst, sending 12 men to the plate.
Martin, Gushue and Mattson each went 2 for 4 at the plate to lead a 12-hit UF attack, while Daniel Dwyer paced the Redbirds with a 3 for 5 effort.
“Overall I was pleased with how we swung the bats,” coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “I thought Brett's start was really good and was more like what we had seen in preseason. I guess the only negative about the game was that we didn't pitch very well in the eighth there, but the bullpen's been really good the whole year and we responded with seven in the bottom of the eighth.”
Young (2-0), the second of eight UF pitchers on the night, picked up the win, while Learnard (0-2) was tagged with the loss.