Alonso's homer edges Razorbacks

Florida's Peter Alonso (20) swings at a pitch and gets a hit during the Gators' opening day win against Maryland at McKethan Stadium on Feb. 14.

Brad McClenny / Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 11:27 p.m.

Freshman Peter Alonso had come close to hitting the first home run of his Florida career on a number of occasions this season with several warning-track shots.


Sunday's game

Who: Arkansas (8-7, 0-2 SEC) at Florida (13-6, 2-0)
When: 1 p.m.
Where: McKethan Stadium
Radio: 103.7 FM

He certainly picked a great time to finally get it.

Alonso's two-out blast over the right-center field fence in the bottom of the first inning turned out to be the only run of the night, as the Gators (13-6, 2-0), who have won seven straight games, clinched their season-opening SEC series with Arkansas with a 1-0 win before an enthusiastic McKethan Stadium crowd of 3,557 Saturday night.

“It's finally good to get one over,” Alonso said. “Just rounding the bases for the first time, I kind of felt like a little kid again. I'm just glad I could get one over and ultimately it be the winning run in the game.”

For the second straight night, pitching and defense dominated on both sides, with UF starter Eric Hanhold and relievers Bobby Poyner and Ryan Harris combining to shut out the Razorbacks (8-7, 0-2) on three hits.

After allowing the first two Arkansas batters he faced in the game to reach base on a walk and a single, Hanhold worked out of the jam without allowing a run and from there. He not only held the Razorbacks hitless until exiting after matching his career-high of five innings, but only one of the last 17 batters he faced hit the ball out of the infield.

“I came out and kind of struggled with my command, but I just had to battle through that,” said Hanhold, who earned the victory to improve to 3-1 on the year. “My defense played really good behind me, and Bobby Poyner came in and did amazing, and so did Harris. It was a huge boost for us.”

Poyner, who threw 3 2/3 innings of one-hit ball, was nothing short of stellar, retiring the first 10 batters he faced, four of them by strikeout, before Brian Anderson gave the Razorbacks some hope with a one-out, ninth-inning single.

After Poyner got Eric Fisher to pop out to second baseman Casey Turgeon for the second out, Harris came in and struck out pinch-hitter Michael Gunn on four pitches to pick up his third save of the season.

“Eric got us off to a great start tonight, just like Logan (Shore) last night,” Poyner said. “When you get a good start, you have a great chance of winning.”

Turgeon, who was 2 for 4, was the only player on either side with more than one hit.

Arkansas starter Trey Killian (0-3), who took the loss, deserved better, scattering seven hits over eight innings with six strikeouts, but a 3-2 fastball up in the zone to Alonso came back to haunt him.

“Pitching was great on both sides, nobody made an error, and both starters were really good,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “Bobby was outstanding as well, and Harris got on top of a couple of sliders there at the end and looked real good. And Hanhold, for his first start, kept us in there and had to make some big pitches there in the first. It could have gone the other way. The first two guys got on, and he put a zero on the board.”

Zeroes have been the scoreboard story thus far in the series, especially for the Razorbacks, who started the season 7-0 but have now lost seven of their last eight games, including four in a row.

In 18 innings against UF pitching, Arkansas has scored just one run.

The squads will close out the series today at 1 p.m. Florida will send freshman lefty A.J. Puk (1-1, 3.75 ERA) to the mound in search of a sweep while right-hander Chris Oliver (1-2, 2.45) is scheduled to start for Arkansas.

“Our team feels really good,” Poyner said. “In the locker room, everybody's happy. We're jelling together very well, and I think we're playing great as a team.”

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