Freshmen pitching, homers lead Florida

Friday night went by an ideal script for the Gators. Starting pitcher Danny Young tossed 5.2 shutout innings while the offense jumped to a 5-0 lead after three innings. Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan was able to conserve his best bullpen arms for the final two games of the series as the Gators won their 10th of the last 11 games with a 7-2 win over Tennessee.

The Gators threw four freshmen on the mound and pulled out an easy win in Southeastern Conference play. That doesn't usually happen, but after junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford sprained his ankle during practice on Thursday, the younger pitchers were called on to step up. And they delivered.

Danny Young, Aaron Rhodes, Parker Danciu and Tucker Simpson kept the key arms fresh in the bullpen while allowing just two runs, both by Simpson in the ninth inning.

"It's really important," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We threw four freshmen tonight and they threw the ball good. Any time you get a win on a Friday and throw four freshmen, you feel good about it."

Daniel Gibson, Ryan Harris and Johnny Magliozzi have anchored the bullpen throughout the season, but giving them the night off on Friday was important. Only Harris pitched in Tuesday's midweek win over USF. With no midweek games scheduled for next weekend, O'Sullivan said he wouldn't be afraid to extend any of the three during Saturday or Sunday since they'll have all of next week to rest before the Gators travel to LSU.

Young tossed a career-high 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing six hits and two walks while recording just one strikeout. He had plenty of help from the defense behind him, turning key double plays in the third and fourth innings after the Volunteers had runners on base with no outs.

"Danny has a lot of fight in him," Florida catcher Taylor Gushue said. "The littlest things piss him off, and that's good from a pitching stand point. He can have that fire out there and help him get through those tough situations."

Young came out of the game after 5.2 innings when a line drive hit off his lip. He fell to the ground immediately and was helped to his feet by a trainer. Young walked off the field under his own power with a towel pushed on his lip. He was taken to Shands to get stitches after the game,

"I think he's going to be alright," O'Sullivan said. "He's going to be sore and swollen, but every indication we have is that he's going to be okay. Hopefully we dodged a bullet there."

The Florida offense got started in a way that hasn't been used much this season. The Gators launched a season-high three home runs on Friday, getting them from Gushue, Justin Shafer and Casey Turgeon.

Shafer gave the Gators the lead with a solo home run in the second inning before Gushue put the game out of reach with a three-run shot in the third inning. The Gators led the country in home runs last season, but after losing the fire power off the team, Friday night felt a lot like last season.

"I haven't seen three balls go out in a game in a while," Gushue said. "It was bringing back old memories."

Crawford is expected to get the start on Saturday. O'Sullivan said he could've pitched on Friday, but they didn't want to take any risks with it. The Gators go for the series win on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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