Struggles continue for Florida in loss

After a sloppy effort filled with errors and a lack of hitting on Thursday, the Gators were plagued by the same problems on Friday. Florida got three hits and put only two runners in scoring position while and committing two errors, falling behind early in the game and never recovering. The Gators fell to Illinois 6-0, losing their fourth of their last five games.

"There's things that we've got to learn and get better," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "It's as simple as that."

Florida left-hander Bobby Poyner got the start but lasted just 4.2 innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Illinois threatened in the first inning before striking with a two-out, two-run double by first baseman David Kerian.

The knockout blow came in the sixth inning. After freshman Brett Morales got the Gator out of a jam without allowing any runs in the fifth inning, the right-hander ran into big trouble in the sixth. Three straight singles loaded the bases with no outs before a hit batter scored the first run of the inning.

Left-hander Danny Young came in relief and induced a high, hopping ground ball to Florida third baseman John Sternagel. The freshman was too focused on making his way to third base and had the ball bounce off his glove, scoring one run and keeping the bases loaded. After Young recorded a strikeout for the first out of the inning, Illinois leadoff man Will Krug lined a two-run single to center field, push the lead to 6-0.

"It was a slider that was supposed to be in the dirt but I left it up," Poyner said. "He put a good swing on it."

The Florida offense wasn't much better. The Gators totaled one hit in the first six innings and finished the game with just three hits. Illinois starter Kevin Duchene kept the Gators off balance without touching 90 mph on the radar gun, mixing his off-speed pitches and moving his fastball to different points of the strike zone. The left-hander ended with a three-hit shutout, walking two hitters and striking out six.

"He was really good," O'Sullivan said. "He was a freshman All-American last year, used both sides of the plate and had life on his fastball. If he throws like he did tonight, you're not going to score many runs. He's not going to walk people."

Florida got multiple base runners on during one inning and had just two runners in scoring position all night. The biggest threat came in the fourth inning, when Florida loaded the bases with one out for Braden Mattson, but the junior struck out. Three Florida juniors couldn't get the job done in the same spot on Thursday.

The Gators return to action on Saturday at 7 p.m. against Florida Gulf Coast, who beat Florida 2-1 on Thursday. Redshirt junior right-hander Karsten Whitson will be on the mound for the Gators.


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