Lorenz's blast lifts Gators past Bulls
For a couple of junctures Wednesday, 20th-ranked USF appeared on the verge of cracking the seemingly indomitable veneer of two-time reigning national champ Florida. Bases-loaded situation here, couple of singles there.
But in the end, the Bulls (39-11) squandered all their opportunities and the Gators squashed a couple of theirs -- including one over the fence in left center field.
Freshman Amanda Lorenz's solo home run triggered a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth inning -- all with two out -- that propelled top-ranked UF (42-3) to a 3-0 victory before a Pressly Stadium crowd of 729.
The Gators' triumph not only snapped USF's eight-game win streak, but ended a string of 41 consecutive scoreless innings by Bulls pitchers.
Until Lorenz sent Erica Nunn's 3-1 pitch into the netting in front of the scoreboard, the Bulls senior left-hander had allowed only two hits and struck out six against the eighth-best offense -- in terms of on-base percentage -- in the country.
Nunn opened the fifth by fanning the first two batters on called third strikes. She escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first by striking out Nicole DeWitt (a .321 hitter coming in) and forcing Janell Wheaton (.314) to fly to right.
"She's a bulldog, man," Bulls coach Ken Eriksen said.
"(Nunn) was doing a good job," Lorenz said. "I think a lot of us were just not getting our timing well. We weren't jumping on good pitches early and just letting her get ahead, so I think it just took us a little while to get comfortable."
Kayli Kvistad and Kirsti Merritt followed Lorenz's blast with consecutive singles, setting up DeWitt's two-run double that chased Nunn (22-7).
USF managed only four hits off a trio of Gators pitchers, but loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first off a walk, fielder's choice and error. But freshman right-hander Kelly Barnhill struck out Nunn and forced shortstop Mo Santos to ground into a force-out at third.
Three innings later, USF threatened again on Nunn's leadoff single and Mia Fung's one-out base hit, but Gators sophomore Aleshia Ocasio forced Cassidy Boyle to pop up to short before striking out Astin Donovan.
"I mean, it's two good pitchers -- five good pitchers -- going at each other tonight," Eriksen said. "So not a bad showing."