Jacksonville ends Florida baseball's win streak

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 9:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 9:40 p.m.

Florida’s baseball momentum was derailed for a night Tuesday with a performance that left their coach “frustrated.”



Who: Florida A&M (17-21) at Florida (27-14)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: McKethan Stadium

The sixth-ranked Gators saw their six-game win streak snapped by a team that entered the night 12 games under .500. Florida struggled at the plate and one bad pitch doomed UF in a 3-1 loss.

“We’ve explained to these guys that the in-state teams that come in here want to beat us,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “You had better have your A-game. It’s a bit frustrating because you better come ready to play. But they outplayed us. All the credit goes to JU.”

Florida is now 27-14 with a game Wednesday night against Florida A&M while JU improves to 14-24.

Ryan Dillard, the No. 9 hitter in the Dolphins’ order, hit a long three-run homer in the seventh inning for JU’s runs. Dillard came up after UF reliever Ryan Harris hit consecutive batters with one out in the inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Dillard launched a shot to left that landed in the last row of bleachers.

“We had a miscommunication on a pitch and he hits the six-hole guy and hits the seven-hole guy and then the nine-hole guy runs into one,” O’Sullivan said. “You can’t give them freebies and we’ve done a good job of avoiding that this season.”

Dillard had struck out in his previous two at-bats. It was his second homer of the season.

The good news for Florida was that the Gators received five strong innings from starting pitcher Karsten Whitson, who allowed only three hits and struck out five in his best outing of the season.

“That’s what’s disappointing, that he threw as good as he has in awhile and I was hoping our guys would rally around him with the bats,” O’Sullivan said.

Whitson was aided by a JU base-running error when designated hitter Nate Ricci doubled to right with one out in the fourth but was caught too far off second base on a relay throw to first baseman Zack Powers, who was trailing the play.

“It was good to get out there and put some zeroes on the board,” Whitson said. “I’ve been trying to simple-up the game for myself.”

Powers hit a solo homer in the second to give Florida a 1-0 lead off JU starter Justin Russell, the Dolphin’s usual Sunday starter who was pushed back to Tuesday night because of a pair of rainouts over the weekend.

“It think it was a fastball up and I just reacted on it,” Powers said.

Florida missed a chance to add to the 1-0 lead in the sixth when Richie Martin blooped a one-out triple to right but was stranded.

Russell’s unorthodox delivery, which included a pause just before he delivered each pitch, kept the Gators at bay as he they only managed three hits in seven innings off the righthander. Russell had pitched a complete-game shutout against Florida Gulf Coast in his last start.

“Just credit their guy,” O’Sullivan said. “He made some pitches when he had to.”

Alex McRae, Jacksonville’s usual Friday night starter, pitched the final two innings.

Taylor Gushue, who went 0-for-3, saw his 14-game hitting streak come to an end with a ninth-inning strikeout looking. Powers had a ninth-inning single for Florida to bring the tying run to the plate, but pinch-hitter A.J. Puk struck out to end the game.

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