The No. 12 Florida Gators extended their winning streak to five games and ten games in the conference with their series-clinching win over No. 20 Alabama on Saturday afternoon. The Gators (32-15) took down the football powerhouse Crimson Tide (30-17) 4-3 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium as the win clinched the series for Florida. It is the Gators’ fourth series victory in a row with two more to go in the regular season.
The star of the game was freshman A.J. Puk. The LHP/DH came into the game in the third inning, relieving starter Aaron Rhodes who gave up three runs on four hits in 2.1 IP. Puk did not allow a run and surrendered only two hits over the next 2.2 innings. With the game tied at three each in the sixth inning, Puk came up to bat for himself and delivered a go-ahead single that scored first baseman Peter Alonso.
Puk (4-2) was able to pick up the win as the trio of freshmen Dane Dunning and Kirby Snead and junior Ryan Harris came on to close out the final three innings and close the door on the Crimson Tide. They did not give up a run and gave up only one hit. Harris tossed the final inning and picked up his fifth save of the season.
Florida scored the first run of the game when junior Casey Turgeon scored on a wild pitch. He had walked and advanced to second on a previous wild pitch and third on a single by sophomore Richie Martin. Turgeon then doubled to right center in the fifth to score freshman left fielder Ryan Larson after Alabama scored three runs in the third inning.
Before Puk’s game-winning hit, catcher Taylor Gushue tied the game with a solo home run off Alabama starter Justin Kamplain (4-3). It was the fourth and final run allowed by Kamplain as he came out of the game two batters later. Gushue’s fifth home run of the season gave the Gators momentum as they knocked the starter out of the game and were able to score one more run in the inning and then hold the Crimson Tide scoreless the rest of the game.
Turgeon was 3-3 on the day with two walks, an RBI, and a run scored. He was the only Gator with multiple hits in the game.
The Gators won their 13th one-run game of the year. They also tied for the second longest SEC winning streak in school history at ten games. Things are looking bright for Florida as the final stretch of the regular season is approaching.
Game three and the series finale will be Sunday at 3 PM. Redshirt junior RHP Karsten Whitson (1-0) is slated to start for the Gators. The Crimson Tide will send junior LHP Jon Keller (5-1) in opposition and try to salvage at least one game against the red hot Gators. Florida will try to tie the school record for consecutive SEC wins at 11 and secure its third straight conference series sweep.