Gators ground Eagles with power from plate

Florida catcher Taylor Gushue went 3-for-4 at the plate and had two RBIs to lead the Gators to a 15-hit performance at Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 12:11 a.m.

FORT MYERS — The Gators finished a key road trip with a big hitting performance against Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday.

No. 18 Florida’s offense erupted for 15 hits and catcher Taylor Gushue drove in a pair of runs on three hits to give the Gators a 7-1 victory at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers.

The Gators (24-13) took the season series 2-1 and finished a critical eight-game road trip that included four games against top-five teams and six games against SEC East opponents with a 5-3 record.

“This was a really good game for us,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I told our guys after the game that I’m proud of the way they played on this road trip. There was no let up tonight.

Florida’s pitching staff of Ryan Harris, Kirby Snead, Justin Shafer and Shaun Anderson limited the Eagles to one run on four hits. Harris (2-0) earned the victory in his first career start. Snead retired 11 in a row after entering to begin the third and finished his day with four innings pitched and only one hit allowed.

“It was good to get Ryan (Harris) out there for his first career start,” O’Sullivan said. “We just wanted to get him 30 pitches or so. ... We had a lot of confidence in Ryan. Kirby Snead was outstanding. Four innings and I don’t think he even threw 40 pitches. He’s going to be ready to go this weekend.”

FGCU’s Brad Anderson (2-2) picked up the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits in four innings.

Gushue drove in his team leading 31st and 32nd runs of the year with RBI singles in the first and second innings. The base hit in the first extended his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games.

The Gators broke the game open in the seventh with three runs.

Shafer entered the game to start the seventh and allowed FGCU’s lone run on an RBI double. Shafer fired a perfect eighth and Anderson followed suit in the ninth to cap the UF victory.

UF’s offense tallied 15 or more hits for the third time this season and the first time since Kentucky (17) on April 5. Florida is a perfect 4-0 when tallying 13 or more hits and 14-2 when outhitting its opponent.

Florida will host Georgia this weekend. First pitch of Friday’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m. and all three games of the series will be televised.

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