Gators win the series

The Florida offense faced inconsistencies during the first two games of the series, but on Sunday, they didn't always need a bat. The Gators worked nine walks at the plate while totaling just seven hits, letting the Maryland pitchers work themselves into trouble. Florida finished the weekend with a 8-5 win over the Terrapins in a game shortened to eight innings because of Maryland's travel curfew.

Maryland starter Jared Price struggled early and only last 1.2 innings, walking five Florida hitters and giving up five runs. He walked three hitters in the second inning and all three came around to score. After two innings of play, Florida had two hits and five runs, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Richie Martin, a hit by pitch for Casey Turgeon with the bases loaded and a two-run single for Taylor Gushue.

The Gators tacked on with a three-run inning in the fifth, started by an RBI double for freshman A.J. Puk. Richie Martin followed two batters later with a double to score Puk, and Martin scored after stealing third base and coming home on an error by Maryland third baseman Krysthian Leal.

The scoring came in bunches, but it would've been more difficult without the Maryland pitching staff's control issues and the Florida hitters being patient. The Gators scored 19 runs on the weekend while only recording 21 hits.

"From the first inning, we saw (Price) really struggling," Gushue said. "We knew he had a good arm and what he was trying to do, but he just didn't have his command today. We were patient, and it paid off."

The three-RBI day for Gushue punctuated a big opening weekend for the junior catcher. He finished the weekend with a .364 average (4-11) with five RBI.

Shortstop Richie Martin also had a good weekend at the plate. He finished the weekend hitting .455 (5-11), scoring four runs and driving in three. The sophomore added some nice plays in the field.

"We swung the bats pretty well," Martin said. "We hit the ball right at some people. Offense will always start out a little slow, but I think we'll be fine coming up this week. It doesn't show, but I thought we had some good at bats."

Sunday served as redshirt junior Karsten Whitson's first start since May 26, 2012 against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament. He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury but made his first start in almost 21 months on Sunday. The scoreboard radar gun had Whitson's fastball consistently at 91 mph, touching 92 mph a few times and 93 mph once.

He made only 48 pitches and was pulled after two innings of work. Whitson was healthy when pulled, but after a long bottom of the second inning where the Gators batted around, O'Sullivan didn't want to risk throwing Whitson back on the mound after sitting for so long. The large number of high leverage pitches he threw plus the option to get Whitson out of the game on a positive note both helped O'Sullivan decide to get his redshirt junior out of the game.

"It has been a long time since he has been out there," O'Sullivan said. "He made a lot of stressful pitches in two innings. He was anxious to get out there, but he threw the ball much better in the second inning. We'll keep running him out there and he'll figure this thing out."

In Whitson's two innings, the redshirt junior gave up four hits, two walks and three runs (all earned) while striking out two hitters.

Eric Hanhold followed with three shutout innings, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out three. Hanhold earned the win. Justin Shafer tossed 2.2 innings, allowing six hits and two runs before Ryan Harris came in to record the final out and earn the first save of the season.

Florida will have Monday off before hosting UCF on Tuesday and North Florida on Wednesday. Both games will start at 7 p.m. The Gators haven't decided who will start either game.

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