Turgeon blast sparks Gators

Saturday was about forgetting opening night for the Gators. After getting off to a slow start on Friday night, Florida didn't waste time changing that Saturday afternoon. The Gators got on the board with a three-run home run from sophomore second baseman Casey Turgeon in the first inning and took advantage of four Duke errors while securing a 4-2 win over the Blue Devils on Saturday.

"I went up there with one thing on my mind—look for that pitch right down the middle," Florida second baseman Casey Turgeon said. "He gave it to me.

Turgeon thought it was going foul. A 12 mph wind was blowing across the field and out to left field throughout the game and helped the ball stay in fair territory. Off the bat, it looked destined for foul territory, but as the high, towering blast hung in the air, it crept closer and closer to the right field foul pole before bouncing off it and back into play.

The 3-0 cushion a long way to relieving pressure. Friday night wasn't enjoyable for the players, who came into the season with high expectations. They wanted to get back on the winning track, and a three-run cushion in the first inning was a big way to make that happen.

"Momentum is huge in college athletics, regardless of the sport," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Coming off last night's loss, that three-run homer was huge to kind of let us relax."

It helped the young Florida pitchers — freshmen Tucker Simpson and Parker Danciu — settle into the game. It helped the Florida defense relax. More than anything, it helped the Gators get over the disappointment of Friday night's season-opening loss.

"Coming out here and scoring runs in the first inning, it pumped our team up and got us going for the rest of the game," Turgeon said.

The first inning could've been much bigger. After Justin Shafer followed the home run with a ground out, Vickash Ramjit reached on an error and Taylor Gushue followed with a single. The inning ended with a thud as Zack Powers struck out and Gushue was then picked off first base.

The Gators had two or more base runners in three more innings but could only cash in during the sixth inning. Gushue started the inning with a walk and Powers followed with a single. After Josh Tobias bunted them over, Cody Dent came through with a sacrifice fly to left field.

"Cody's at-bat was really good," O'Sullivan said. "He got to a 2-0 count and their freshman threw a breaking ball for a strike. In a 2-1 count, he did not pull off, stayed in the middle of the field and put a good swing on that ball. When you get late in the game, those second or third runs are huge."

Despite the 4-2 win, the Gators are still searching for consistency at the plate. Florida had just two hits in the final seven innings of the game.

Simpson threw four innings, allowing two hits, two runs, two walks and striking out three hitters. Danciu picked up his first win in his first collegiate appearance, tossing 3.2 shutout innings, allowing two hits, two walks and striking out two.

Sophomore Johnny Magliozzi came in for the final 1.1 innings to record his first collegiate save.

The Gators return to action on Sunday at noon for the rubber game of the series. Sophomore Justin Shafer will get his first collegiate start for the Gators.

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