It was an absolutely perfect day for baseball as the Florida Gators (2-1) defeated the Maryland Terrapins (1-2) 8-5 in the deciding game of the opening series. The game early ended at 3:15 pm after only the visiting half of the eighth inning due to Maryland’s travel schedule. Catcher Taylor Gushue led the way for the Gators with three RBI. Eric Hanhold (1-0) pitched three shutout innings to get the win for Florida.
Florida pitcher Karsten Whitson made his return to the mound for the first time since 2012 and struggled early. Whitson gave up three first inning runs to give the Gators a deficit for the second straight game. He lasted only two innings on the day, giving up those three runs on four hits, including two walks and a wild pitch.
Maryland scored three runs on three hits in the first frame. Kevin Martir hit an RBI single to left field, Blake Schmit hit a double in the gap to score Martir, and Mike Rescigno smacked a ground-rule double to score their last run of the inning. Rescigno’s hit had the potential to easily score two, but the ball hopped over the fence in right to keep the runner at third. Whitson eventually got out of the inning with no more damage done.
The Gators returned the favor in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly from Gushue to cut the lead to 3-1.
Then Florida exploded for four runs in the second inning. Richie Martin started the scoring with a sac-fly to score Zack Powers. Casey Turgeon came up with the bases loaded and leaned into a pitch for an RBI that tied the game at 3-3.
The catcher, Martir, was clearly upset and thought Turgeon leaned over the plate to get hit by the pitch. You make that judgement for yourself. Gushue came up once again and singled through the left side, plating two Gators.
The first two innings lasted an hour and a half, just about half the time allotted for the game so the Terps could get back to Maryland. After those first two frames, they were able to fit in six innings in the same timeframe.
Florida added to the lead in the fifth when freshman A.J. Puk delivered an RBI double to score Braden Mattson. Richie Martin got in on the action with an RBI double of his own. Martin then stole third and scored on a throwing error by the Terrapins catcher in which the ball trickled down the line in left field. The Gators controlled the lead at 8-3.
Maryland fought back, scoring one run in the sixth and eighth innings, but it wasn’t enough as Ryan Harris got the last out to record his first career save.
Florida has a night off before hosting UCF Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. First pitch is at 7 pm with the starters unknown.