Gator Baseball Kicks Off Season by Winning Series with Duke
Opening night did not go as planned, as the Gators uncharacteristically dropped a home opener. The Gators were downed by the Duke Blue Devils 4-3. Ace Jonathon Crawford did not have his shutdown stuff Friday night and was pulled after 3.2 innings. Crawford gave up 3 hits, 2 runs, and 1 home run. The junior righty also gave up 1 walk and recorded 4 strikeouts. It was enough to really have the Gator faithful worried about the team's future. As the weekend moved along though, each game was played better and better by the young Gators. Freshman pitcher Tucker Simpson showed promise. He went 4 innings and struck out 3 batters, but also gave up one home run. Florida won game two 4-2 to force a rubber match on Sunday.
Game 3 was night and day from the other two games. Although sophomore right handers Justin Shafer only lasted 2.2 innings, the Gators bats came alive and lifted them in a come-from-behind drubbing of the Blue Devils 16-5. SEC co-player of the week Zack Powers erupted Sunday with two grand slams, becoming the second player in Gator history to do so (Preston Tucker was the first). Powers recorded 9 RBI over the entire weekend.
The Gators outscored the Blue Devils 23-11 over the weekend and took the series 2-1. Tonight, the Gators hope to continue their improvement as they take on the UCF Golden Knights in Orlando. Junior right hander Keenan Kish will get the start. First pitch is at 6:30, and will be broadcast locally on ESPN radio AM 850.