Gators use patient seventh inning to beat UCF

The Florida offense has been successful this season without always needing hits. The Gators have been patient at the plate, and that continued on Tuesday, walking four times in a four-run seventh inning. The Gators scored one run on a bases loaded walk before RBI singles from Braden Mattson and Justin Shafer led to a 5-1 win over UCF on Tuesday.

The four-run seventh inning was sparked with the bat on the shoulders of the Florida hitters because of control problems for Knights relief pitcher Joe Marotta. Buddy Reed walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Tobias. After a walk to Richie Martin, Casey Turgeon reached on a fielder's choice where UCF third baseman Kam Gellinger stepped on the bag for the only out.

Taylor Gushue walked to load the bases, but UCF head coach Terry Rooney stuck with Marotta on the mound. It didn't pay off. The right-hander walked Zack Powers on four pitches to give the Gators a 2-1 lead. After the Knights brought in right-hander Trent Thompson, Florida right fielder Braden Mattson lined a two-run single into left field.

"I was just trying to have a good at-bat," Mattson said. "I saw the pitch up and wasn't trying to do too much, like I did my previous at-bat. It obviously worked out well for us. We had a few opportunities before that not quite workout, so I think everyone was happy to see that finally we put something together."

Justin Shafer followed with an infield single, breaking his 0-9 streak to start the season, to push the lead to 5-1.

Taylor Gushue got the Florida offense started with a two-out home run in the first inning. After a long at-bat, Gushue hit a line drive off the scoreboard behind the right-field fence to put the Gators on the board. All of Florida's runs on Tuesday would come with two outs.

"I went down 0-2 and wasn't trying to do too much," Gushue said. "He left a fastball up, I got on top of it and it went out. It was nice, a good first one."

The Gators put together seven hits and earned seven walks. Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan is optimistic his offense is starting to improve after a slow start.

"Our bats are starting to come around," O'Sullivan said. "We hit some balls hard to the warning track tonight. We just missed a couple. We're close. We're getting real close offensively. I'm seeing better swings, and once we get everybody going, I think we're going to be a pretty good offensive club. It's just early in the year and the pitching always seems to be ahead of the hitting early in the year."

On the mound, freshman Logan Shore earned the start and made the first appearance of his collegiate career. The right-hander threw 5.1 innings, allowing three hits, one unearned run and no walks while striking out four hitters.

When Shore came out, sophomore left-hander Danny Young came in and threw the final 3.2 innings. Young allowed one hit and struck out two hitters, giving the Florida staff a break after a long weekend and before Wednesday's game.

"Danny's kind of Mr. Reliable," O'Sullivan said. "He throws strikes, and you know what you're going to get, day-in, day-out. He's competitive."

The Gators host North Florida on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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