The 20th-ranked Florida baseball team dropped the middle game in the opening series with the Maryland Terrapins 9-7. Florida’s freshman struggled a little in game two of the three game series. Four freshman pitchers contributed for Florida starting with Brett Morales. Morales (0-1) started the game for the Gators and went 3 1/3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 5 hits, walking 2 taking the loss for UF. The 6’7″ freshman lefty A.J. Puk relieved Morales and threw 2 2/3 innings conceding 3 hits and 1 run while striking out 3. Kirby Snead didn’t record an out while giving up 1 run and 2 hits. And Dane Dunning concluded the parade of freshman pitchers with 2/3 innings of perfect baseball, striking out 1.
Maryland struck first in the opening stanza with a two-run single off the bat of Kevin Martir. The Terps added to the lead in the second when Andrew Amaro hit an RBI single to take a 3-0 lead. The hit-parade continued in the fourth with Charlie White’s single to left field, scoring two. Anthony Papio hit a solo shot in the sixth to give Maryland a 6-0 lead.
But that’s when Florida started mounting a comeback. The Gators used a three-run home half of the sixth to cut the lead in half. All of Florida’s runs came with two-outs. Casey Turgeon scored the first run on the game for UF on a wild pitch from the new Maryland pitcher Tayler Stiles. Taylor Gushue scored on a fielding error to third base off the bat of Justin Schafer and Braden Mattson pinch-hit for A.J. Puk, who had started the game as the designated hitter, and came through with an RBI single.
The Terrapins answered in the seventh with a run on a bunt squeeze by Blake Schmit to increase the lead to 7-3. The Gators Buddy Reed scored a run of his own on a wild pitch, the second wild pitch in which a Gator scored on the night. Again, Maryland came back with a run of their own on a fielder’s choice to put the lead at 8-4.
Florida used another two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth to put the game in reach. Reed hit a single to left, scoring two runs to collect his first career hit at Florida. Richie Martin continued the rally with an RBI single to cut the Terp lead to 1, 8-7. Brandon Lowe hit a solo home run to leadoff the ninth inning to put the game at the final score of 9-7.
Lowe and Papio each went 3-for-4 in the game with solo homers, scoring three runs apiece. It was a tough night for the Florida bats as the Gators had to use an error and two wild pitches to score three runs. Gushue led the way with two hits and Reed was tops for Florida with two RBI.
Florida (1-1) and Maryland (1-1) will square off in the rubber match of this three-game opening series today at noon. Karsten Whitson returns to the mound for the first time two years for the Gators and the Terrapins will send Jared Price to the bump.