Six-run inning secures midweek win

The switch didn't flip until the fifth inning -- and no one knew why it did. But after cruising through the first four innings with bad at-bats, the Gators changed things in a hurry during the fifth inning. Florida batted around with five hits while scoring six runs and taking command of the game. The Gators then cruised to a 12-1 win over USF, ending a 12-game winning streak for the Bulls.

"We were a little dead up there the first half of the game," said Florida catcher Taylor Gushue. "I don't really know what changed. The ‘on' switch just went on. It happened for us that inning."

The inning started with back-to-back one-out singles by Connor Mitchell and Harrison Bader, with Mitchell scoring the first run from third on a wild pitch. Richie Martin followed with an RBI single up the middle. After Casey Turgeon walked to load the bases, Gushue rolled a two-run double down the third base line to give the Gators a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning.

Justin Shafer followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, and Zack Powers then drove in Gushue with an RBI single, pushing the lead to 6-1 at the end of the fifth inning.

The pent up frustration from the first four innings against USF starter Mike Clarkson was released as the Gators batted around in the fifth inning.

"We've just been taking a lot of batting practice, and the coaches have been stressing hitting," Martin said. "We've worked on it."

The big positive for Florida was still to come. The Gators followed their six-run inning with a four-run inning. It seems like a minor concern to some, but Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan recalled multiple times this year when the Gators would put up multiple runs in one inning and then go dormant on offense.

That didn't happen on Tuesday.

The Gators came back out in the sixth inning, loading the bases on a walk, hit by pitch and a single by the bottom three -- Mitchell, Bader and Dent -- in the order. Martin then welcomed new pitcher Joe Adel to the game with a three-run triple into the left-center field gap. It was Martin's first career triple and gave him a career-high four RBIs.

"That has been one the things we've been struggling with," O'Sullivan said. "There will be too many zeroes on the board. You score in one or two innings, then there are six more zeroes. It was nice to see us back it up. Just apply pressure and extend the lead."

The Gators did that and cruised through the final three innings to win their ninth of the last 10 games.

Bobby Poyner got the start on the mound and went 3.1 innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out two hitters, coming on the first two hitters of the game that he faced. Poyner was lifted after 56 pitches because he could still get the start in a conference game against Tennessee this weekend.

Five Florida pitchers -- Aaron Rhodes, Danny Young, Ryan Harris, Parker Danciu and Eric Hanhold -- ended the game with 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out eight hitters.

The Gators return to action on Friday at 7 p.m. in the first of a three-game series against Tennessee.

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