No. 1 Florida Records Rain-Shortened Win

The rain came down early and often Sunday, but the Gators were able to sneak in five innings to make the game official. Florida starting pitcher Karsten Whitson was pulled after just 13 pitches in the first inning before reliever Steven Rodriguez bailed him out. The Gators got on the board with two home runs and some clutch hitting as No. 1 Florida beat William & Mary 5-3 to sweep the series.

The main concern for Florida after the game was Karsten Whitson. The sophomore was pulled after recording two outs and throwing just 13 pitches. O'Sullivan visited the mound after Whitson induced a ground out to third base for the second out of the opening inning. After Whitson walked the next hitter and gave up an RBI single to Michael Katz, O'Sullivan came to the mound and pulled Whitson from the game.

"I think it's just early season arm stuff," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said after the game. "I don't see it being anything serious. When you've got a special arm like that, you just don't want to take any chances."

O'Sullivan pointed to the fact that Whitson missed some time in fall scrimmages because of a groin injury. Because of that, he wasn't able to build stamina in the offseason to get his arm to where it needed to be early in the season.

"Once you get back in the spring, there's not a lot of time. He threw the ball extremely well in the beginning of the spring."

"You could tell he wasn't feeling his best. You'll see early season stuff where the arm just doesn't bounce back as quick as you'll want. I'm sure he'll be fine, but we just want all of our guys to feel like they're 100%."

Steven Rodriguez (2-0) came in relief and threw 3.1 innings, allowing one run and striking out four hitters. The junior's one run allowed came on a balk with a runner at third. Jonathon Crawford, who picked up the win after five scoreless innings against UCF on Wednesday, struck out three in 1.2 innings while allowing a solo home run to Michael Katz, the first of his career.

The Florida offense took a couple innings to start, but Nolan Fontana got it going with his first home run of the season. He drilled a one-out pitch off the scoreboard to score Justin Shafer, who started the inning with an infield single.

Shafer added a two-run single in the fourth inning when he lined one to left field, scoring Austin Maddox and Cody Dent, who pinch ran for Casey Turgeon after he doubled earlier that inning. Turgeon, a freshman, has a hit in seven of the first eight games this season.

After coming into the game 1-9 on the season, Shafer went 2-2 on Sunday, driving in two runs and scoring one.

"I finally felt comfortable at the plate," Shafer said. "Being in this atmosphere is something to get used to from being in high school."

One day after Preston Tucker broke the school RBI record with a home run, he hit a towering shot over the right field scoreboard in the fifth inning of Sunday's game for his fifth home run of the year. Tucker has five home runs this season but eight RBIs since all of his home runs have been solo.

"This is his fifth home run, and it's not really surprising," O'Sullivan said with a laugh. "He's gone on tears like this. You look up and it's almost like you expect him to hit one a game. He has done a really good job of getting us in good counts, and when he does get pitches to hit, he has been doing a great job with them."

INJURY REPORT: Mike Zunino sat out of Sunday's game after he tweaked his hamstring while running the bases on Saturday. O'Sullivan said on Saturday they planned to be "very, very cautious" with him, since Florida has no midweek games before heading to No. 14 Miami next weekend.

Casey Turgeon (hamstring) was pulled after his double in the fourth inning. The field was already wet and he didn't want Turgeon to tweak anything rounding third base, so he sent Cody Dent in to pinch run and finish out the game in the field.

O'Sullivan said he expects both players to be fine this weekend in Coral Gables.


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