The Gators are on fire, and even South Florida’s 12-game winning streak melted under their heat.
Florida hammered the Bulls 12-1 at McKethan Stadium, winning for the ninth time in its past 10 games. After starting the season 11-16, the Gators (23-19) are surging as they push for a postseason berth.
“We’re getting the most out of our players now,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They’ve persevered through some tough times. You want to get the best out of them, and we’re getting very close to that.”
It was UF’s third-largest run total this season. The Gators came into the game 11th in the SEC in runs scored.
Florida managed just two hits through the first four innings before breaking loose in the bottom of the fifth. The Gators tied it on Harrison Bader’s RBI single and went ahead on a wild pitch by USF starter Mike Clarkson, then poured on four more runs.
“We were a little dead the first half of the game,” said catcher Taylor Gushue, from Boca Raton. “I don’t know what happened, but the switch flipped on and that inning got us over the hump.”
Richie Martin drove in a run on a single, followed by Gushue cracking an RBI double down the left-field line. Justin Shafer brought in another one on a sacrifice fly, and Zach Powers hit an RBI single with two outs to put Florida up 6-1.
The Gators piled on the next inning, starting with Martin’s three-run triple to the wall in left-center field. Turgeon, the next batter, brought him in with a sacrifice fly.
“It was nice to see our guys keeping the pressure on them,” O’Sullivan said. “It didn’t have to be four runs, necessarily, but it was good to see them keep it going.”
Florida starter Bobby Poyner, from Palm Beach Central High School, allowed one earned run on four hits in 3 1/3 innings. O’Sullivan limited his pitches to keep him available for this weekend’s series against Tennessee. Poyner is one of several candidates to start.
The Gators’ bullpen backed him up by holding the Bulls (26-15) scoreless the rest of the way. Ryan Harris, a sophomore from Jupiter, threw 1 2/3 hitless innings.
The victory kept Florida on track for a chance at making the NCAA tournament, which seemed like a long shot earlier in the season. O’Sullivan believes the team needs to get close to 30 wins to earn an at-large selection. With 14 games left in the season, that mark is well within reach now.
“It’s not smooth sailing, but the team’s gotten a lot better,” Gushue said. “Guys are playing for each other and playing for the postseason.”
A week after a pair of unimpressive losses, Georgia Tech regained a bit of its footing. The Yellow Jackets delivered an emphatic 87-57 thrashing of East Tennessee State on Saturday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion to head into their final exam week on an up note.