Gator baseball continues to dominate the weekends, this time sweeping visiting Rhode Island by scores of 9-0, 9-2, and a walk-off 3-2 (which I had the pleasure of catching live with our friend over at We Like Sports. It wasn’t enough for the Gators to hold onto the #1 spot in the NCAA rankings, however, as the back to back mid-week losses to UCF proved to be a small stumbling block.
Don’t be concerned about this small drop though, Gator fans. Mid-week games are meant to give younger players, particularly pitchers, a chance to get college experience and for coaches to evaluate their future rotation and lineups. Florida had become somewhat notorious for dropping games in the middle of the week last season… but we all know how that one panned out!
[Game 1] #2 Gators (13-3) win 9 – 0 over Rhode Island (2-9)
Florida earned its third shutout of the season with a 9-0 win over Rhode Island in the series opener at McKethan Stadium. Gators’ starter Brady Singer cruised on Friday night, going seven innings with just two hits allowed and eight strikeouts to improve to 4-0 on the season. Florida jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Wil Dalton led off the game with a single and took second on a wild pitch. He scored on JJ Schwarz’s RBI single to left.
Schwarz advanced to third on Jonathan India’s single to right and scored on a grounder from Keenan Bell. Nick Horvath made it 3-0 in the second inning with a solo home run, his second of the year. Florida broke the game open in the fourth inning when Nelson Maldonado hit the first grand slam of his career to make it 7-0. Nick Long and Connor Churchill each worked a scoreless inning out of the bullpen to finish off the shutout.
[Game 2] #2 Gators (14-3) win 9 – 2 over Rhode Island (2-10)
Florida opened Saturday’s doubleheader with a 9-2 win over Rhode Island at McKethan Stadium. Austin Langworthy hit a two-run double in the bottom of the first to put the Gators ahead early.
UF extended the lead with a big second inning, scoring four runs on three doubles. Brady Smith and Nick Horvath had back-to-back doubles to score a run and Jonathan India’s two-run double made it 6-0. Wil Dalton had a RBI double in the fourth to bring home Horvath, who reached on his second double of the day. A groundout from JJ Schwarz made it 8-0 as Dalton scored.
Rhode Island got on the board for the first time in the series courtesy of a sac fly in the top of the seventh inning. Florida starter Tyler Dyson exited in the seventh after going 6.1 innings with one unearned run allowed on six hits.
[Game 3] #2 Gators (15-3) win 3 – 2 over Rhode Island (2-11)
Florida freshman Jordan Butler‘s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Gators a 3-2 win over Rhode Island to sweep the weekend series against the Rams.
With two outs, Butler got the call to pinch hit with runners on second and third. Butler pulled an inside fastball to the right side and Deacon Liput sprinted home from third to walk off with a win. Rhode Island took its first lead of the series in the second inning on a solo home run from catcher Sonny Ulliana. The Gators answered in the third inning on a sac fly from Nelson Maldonado.
Following the home run, UF starter Jackson Kowar took control and retired the next 14 batters in a row until running into trouble in the seventh. After a leadoff single, the Rams loaded the bases with a walk and hit batter. A sac fly to center gave them a 2-1 lead before Kowar ended the threat. Jack Leftwich relieved Kowar in the eighth inning and retired all six batters he faced.
Florida came to bat in the ninth trailing by a run but the veteran Gators came through. Jonathan India led off with a double and Deacon Liput followed with a RBI single to tie the game at 2-2.
Next on deck: Florida will host Florida State in a midweek matchup Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at McKethan Stadium.