Opportunistic Gators Claw Their Way to Victory over Southern Miss 4-2

The Florida Gators took to the road to play a home game against Southern Mississippi in Pensacola.

The Florida Gators took to the road to play a home game against Southern Mississippi in Pensacola.

Florida Gator baseball team took to the road to play a “home” game on Tuesday evening against Southern Mississippi. On a frigid, rainy evening in front of a packed house full of mostly orange and blue clad Gator faithful at Bayfront Stadium in Pensacola, the Gators took advantage of Golden Eagle miscues, putting together some timely hitting to overcome a 2-0 deficit and ride home a 4-2 victor over Southern Miss.

The game was a pitcher’s duel early as Gator starter Danny Young, making his 2014 debut, pitched well putting in five complete innings with four strikeouts against only one walk and one earned run. The Gators fell behind in the fourth inning as right fielder Braden Mattson dropped an easy fly ball allowing the leadoff hitter Michael Sterling to reach base. Mason Robbins followed with an RBI double to the corner in right field scoring Sterling from first base. After getting the next batter out, Young issued his only walk of the game, a costly one for the Gators, to Dylan Burdeaux who subsequently scored on an RBI single by Tim Lynch. Just like that the Gators were in a 2-0 hole before getting out the side in the fourth inning.

The Gators were able to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning chasing Southern Miss starter Christian Talley with two earned runs.¬†Casey Turgeon led off the inning with a deep right field double, advancing to third on Peter Alonso’s grounder to the short stop. With runners at first and third due to Taylor Gushue being hit by a pitch, Mattson drilled a line drive base hit for an RBI and the Gators first run. The next batter A.J. Puk took a walk leaving the bases loaded for Josh Tobias who drilled a pitch into left center field for another Gator RBI, Tobias’ first of the season.

Gators lined up for the national anthem from Pensacola's Bayfront Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Gators lined up for the national anthem from Pensacola’s Bayfront Stadium on Tuesday evening.

It wouldn’t stay knotted up at two apiece for long as the Gators became very opportunistic in the next inning. After lead off hitter Richie Martin reached base due to being hit by a pitch, Casey Turgeon quickly moved him to second base with a sacrifice bunt. Peter Alonso then walked and both runners advanced on the next at bat due to a passed ball by Southern Miss pitcher Luke Lowery putting runners on second and third. After Taylor Gushue walked to load the bases, Braden Mattson provided an RBI single to right field scoring Richie Martin to break the tie at 3-2.

The Gators weren’t done in the inning. A.J. Puck picked up an RBI on a hard hitter to shortstop Michael Sterling that he fumbled to keep the bases loaded and stretch the Gator lead to 4-2. Josh Tobias then hit into a double play to end the inning for the Gators, stranding three base runners.

From there Gator relievers, Aaron Rhodes and Ryan Harris combined to shut the Golden Eagles out the rest of the way.

Braden Mattson led the way for the Gators going 3-4 with two RBI’s. Shortstop Richie Martin went 2-4 with a run scored and Josh Tobias extended his hitting streak to three games after a horrifyingly slow start to the season at the plate. He also got his first RBI of the season as well.

Aaron Rhodes pitched 3 2/3 of scoreless relief to pick up the victory his first, while Ryan Harris got the final out for the Gators for his second save of the season.

Next up for the Gators is a three game homestand against Connecticut starting this Friday. First pitch for Friday’s opener from McKethan Stadium is scheduled for 7 pm eastern. Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 3 pm start and Sunday’s cranks up at 1 pm.