Motivated No. 1 Gators Cruise to Victory

The box score was on the wall in the locker room for the Gators to see from the minute they walked in on Tuesday. The Florida coaches wanted to remind them of what happened last year when Georgia Southern came to Gainesville and left with an easy 7-0 win. No. 1 Florida came out focused early on Tuesday and made sure that didn't happen again, cruising to an 8-2 win over the Eagles on Tuesday.

"That was definitely a motivation going into tonight," Greg Larson said.

The Florida players remembered that game. Not only did they lose to a midweek opponent they shouldn't have, the Gators were shut out in that game.

"A little bit," Florida DH Brian Johnson said about the added motivation of losing to Georgia Southern last year. "These guys took it to us last year, so we came out prepared.

"If we come out and play our game and stay focused on our team, we can put things together."

Florida started its scoring early. The Gators took an early lead when Brian Johnson launched a three-run home run in the first inning. It allowed Larson to settle in after getting the start.

Larson was making his second start of the season. The first one came in Florida's win over Florida State in Jacksonville last month. The senior also became took sole possession of third place in UF history by making his 105th career appearance.

Larson went three innings, allowing four hits, one run and striking out three hitters. Of his 105 appearances, 100 of them have been out of the bullpen. With Tuesday being the second time this season he has started, he was more comfortable in the role.

"I knew the routine a little more," said Larson, who threw just 39 pitches and will be available out of the bullpen this weekend. "Coming out of the a bullpen, you've got two minutes to throw before you're going into the game. Things are definitely a little more comfortable this time."

The Gators continue their scoring in the fifth and sixth innings because of confusion by the Georgia Southern pitchers and catcher. A passed ball by catcher Chase Griffin allowed Nolan Fontana to score from third with two outs in the fifth, and a wild pitch by Jared Cheek allowed Casey Turgeon to score from third in the sixth inning.

All of Florida's eight runs were scored with two outs.

Johnson added to the scoring with a two-run double in the seventh inning.

The game was Florida's first at home after closing out a streak where 12 of the last 15 games were on the road.

"Just getting home—that's important for us," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "It was a tough stretch for us. It was hard on them. We traveled, and it seemed like every weekend we were on the road and playing good teams. We've played the hardest schedule in the country. We're battled tested."

"This is one of the better games we've played in a while."

INJURY UPDATE: Florida right-hander Hudson Randall hasn't pitched during the last two weekend series because of a tired arm. There's a good chance he will return to the mound this weekend.

"I think he'll be ready to go this weekend," O'Sullivan said. "He threw a (bullpen) today and looked great. He feels great and is pain free."

Josh Tobias needed surgery to repair a fractured hamate bone he suffered on March 23 at South Carolina. He served as a pinch runner over the weekend at Tennessee, but he isn't expected to return until next weekend when Florida hosts Arkansas or the weekend after when it travels to Kentucky.

"That one's going to take a little bit longer," O'Sullivan said. "He thinks he's ready this weekend, but I doubt that."

Right-hander Karsten Whitson has been injury free since returning to the rotation against LSU on April 7 after also suffering from a tired arm. While he hasn't suffered any pain, he hasn't been very effective either.

Whitson threw an eight-pitch inning on Tuesday night against Georgia Southern and recorded a strikeout. O'Sullivan was encouraged with how he threw and thinks this could be the outing that gets him going in the right direction.

"We spoke today," O'Sullivan said. "He just quite hasn't been himself. It's hard when he hasn't pitched in six weeks and we were putting him in tough situations.

"Tonight, he was outstanding. I don't know what his velocity was, but it looked 94-96 (mph). He was cutting the ball loose. The slider looked good and he threw a great changeup. He looked really sharp tonight. Most of the time you need one outing like this, even if it's a short outing, to get the cobwebs out of the way."

O'Sullivan is hopeful the team has gone through its rough patch and that injured players are starting to get well.

"We're slowly but surely getting healthy," he said.


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