Columbia, MO - Missouri (13-22/5-13 SEC) salvaged the finale of its weekend series with an 8-2 victory over Florida (22-19/10-8 SEC) on Sunday afternoon at Taylor Stadium, ending the Gators’ season-high eight-game winning streak. Freshman Josh Lester was a career-best 4-for-4, sophomore Logan Pearson was 3-for-4 with a homer and a triple and junior Dylan Kelly was 3-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs to lead the Tigers.
Missouri plated two runs on three hits in the opening frame against freshman right-hander Tucker Simpson (Oxford, Ala.) (1-2). Pearson led off with his first career homer to right field to break the ice. Sophomore Case Munson (2-for-4, two runs) followed with a bunt single and advanced into scoring position on a throwing error by redshirt sophomore third baseman Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.). Simpson retired the next two batters before Kelly delivered an RBI single up the middle to score Munson but was thrown out at second base on a relay from sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) to sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) to end the inning.
The Gators had runners on the corners with two down in the third inning, when Turgeon drew a two-out walk from freshman Alec Rash and Gushue (3-for-4) moved him to third base with a base-hit into right field. A fielder’s choice by sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) forced Gushue at second to complete the frame.
The Tigers loaded the bags in the home part of the inning but were held at bay. Pearson was hit by a pitch with one down and Munson earned a free pass from Simpson before a grounder by senior Dane Opel gave the hosts a pair of runners in scoring position. A walk to junior Keaton Steele filled the bases and brought freshman Parker Danciu (Delray Beach, Fla.) in for Simpson (2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER). The lefty had Kelly ground out to hold the Gators’ deficit at two runs.
Florida had a pair of runners in scoring position to start the fourth but came away empty-handed. Powers opened the stanza with a walk and senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) boosted his hitting streak to seven games with a double down the right-field line. Redshirt junior Jake Walsh (1-0) took over for Rash (3.0 IP, 3 H, 3 BB) and set down the next three batters: sophomore Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.) (strikeout), freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (fly-out) and senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (ground-out).
After Walsh recorded the first two outs of the fifth, Gushue connected on his fourth homer of the campaign to cut Missouri’s lead in half at 2-1. It was Gushue’s first round-tripper since March 24 at Vanderbilt and was the Gators’ second big fly of the series.
Although Powers led off Florida’s sixth with a single into center field and stole second base with two down, Walsh had Bader fly out to right field to keep Missouri in front.
The Tigers expanded their lead to 4-1 in the home portion of the inning. Steele was plunked with one down and Kelly sliced a single into left field, prompting a pitching change. Shafer took the mound for Danciu (2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER) and an error by Powers on a grounder by junior Kendall Keeton enabled Steele to come across. Lester poked a base-hit into left field to load the bases with one down. Senior Scott Sommerfeld brought home Kelly with a fielder’s choice for a three-run Tiger advantage and Shafer struck out junior Dillon Everett to close the inning.
Dent was hit by a pitch to begin the Gators’ seventh but was erased on a fielder’s choice by freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.). After Walsh (3.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R) had Turgeon pop up for the second out, sophomore John Miles came out of the bullpen and had Gushue ground out.
The Tigers tacked on two more runs for a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the stanza, as Opel roped an RBI triple and Kelly had a two-out run-scoring single. Munson had singled into right center with one down and scored on Opel’s three-bagger into the right-field corner. Kelly delivered a two-out infield single to bring home Opel and cause a pitching change. Freshman Mike Vinson (Miami, Fla.) replaced Shafer (1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R) and had Keeton fly out to left field.
Lester collected his fourth hit to begin MU’s eighth and Vinson had a grounder by Sommerfeld force the runner at second base for the first out. Everett tripled to straightaway center field to score senior pinch runner Brannon Champagne and Pearson followed with another triple to bring home Everett for an 8-1 margin.
Turgeon finalized the 8-2 score in the ninth with a fielder’s choice. Freshman Brady Roberson (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) had a pinch-hit single with one down and went to third on a throwing error on a pinch-hit single by redshirt freshman Cory Reid (Port St. Lucie, Fla.). Turgeon’s grounder to second base erased Reid but brought home Roberson with the game’s final run. Missouri had a 14-7 advantage in hits this afternoon.
The Gators return home to face USF (26-14/10-2 Big East), winners of 12 in a row, at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Florida with Nick Belmonte and Mick Hubert and the contest can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Larry Vettel. Live audio and stats will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball program.