Florida Baseball's Fast Start Clinches Series Against FGCU

The top-ranked Florida Gators (14-1) used four runs in the first to top the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (6-7), 8-3, and claim their fourth weekend series of the year. Florida stretched its winning streak to 12, two shy of the school record.

Brian Johnson (2-0) pitched six strong innings, striking out six while allowing three runs on five hits. The Eagles' Brandon Bixler (2-2) took the loss while being erratic, walking six and hitting two Gators while giving up six runs on three hits in just four innings of work.

The Gators started the scoring in the first when Mike Zunino hit an RBI single, scoring two. Bixler had loaded up the bases with two walks and a hit-by-pitch for Zunino's RBI opportunity. Taylor Gushue continued the scoring with an RBI single to left. Austin Maddox finished it off with a sac fly to score Zunino.

Florida struck again in the second when Preston Tucker hit a sac fly which scored Casey Turgeon. FGCU finally answered in the top of the fourth: Sean Dwyer grounded out to score Ryan Gebhart and cut the lead to 5-1. The Gators returned the favor in the bottom of the fourth when Josh Tobias stole home after being hit-by-a-pitch. Tobias scored while he was on third, when Eagles' catcher Mike Reeves went to the mound to talk to Bixler, but did not call time out. It was the second time the Gators have stolen home on the season and gave the UF a 6-1 advantage.

In the sixth, FGCU cut the lead in half on a Andrew Valencia two-run blast to right. But Johnson set down the rest of the Eagles in the inning, preserving the lead and giving way to the Gators' fantastic bullpen. Greg Larson and Daniel Gibson combined to allow one hit and two baserunners in three innings of relief, and struck out three.

Nolan Fontana gave Florida some insurance runs with his two-run home run in the eighth to put the game at its final score of 8-3.

Sunday, Florida sends freshman Jonathon Crawford (1-1, 6.94 ERA) to the bump against FGCU's Jason Forjet (0-1. 2.50 ERA). The game starts at 1 p.m. and will be shown on Sun Sports.

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