Notes: Gators break out the power bats

After collecting 12 singles on Friday night against Florida A&M, Florida broke out the long ball in Saturday’s winner’s bracket matchup.

The Gators had six extra-base hits, including two-run home runs from Harrison Bader and Buddy Reed, while pounding out 12 total hits in an 8-2 win over South Florida.

“I didn’t think anybody was going to get the ball out tonight,” O’Sullivan said. “The wind was blowing straight in from left. Bader’s ball was into the teeth of the win. Those balls needed to be struck pretty good to get out tonight. Buddy back-spinned it really well. Bader had a 2-0 count and didn’t miss it.”

Reed added a double later in the game, and freshman J.J. Schwarz stayed hot with a double off the right field wall that missed being a home run by a few feet. Pete Alonso chipped in with a double late in the game, and freshman Jeremy Vasquez had an RBI double in the fifth inning.

The Gators stayed short with their swing against Florida A&M on Friday, lining balls back up the middle against soft-tossing pitchers. Against a USF staff that had more velocity -- starting pitcher Ryan Valdes was 90-92 mph throughout the night -- the Gators broke out their power.

“If you’re going to have a good offense, you’re going to have to do it different ways,” O’Sullivan said.

FRESHMEN PRODUCING: On Friday, Florida’s four freshmen in the starting lineup went 8-12 with two doubles, one home run, five runs scored and nine RBI. They continued to produce on Saturday. With Mike Rivera out of the lineup, the Gators started three freshmen that combined to go 4-13. Take out Dalton Guthrie’s 0-4 game, and Schwarz and Vasquez went 4-9 on Saturday with two doubles, two runs scored and one RBI.

Schwarz and Vasquez have combined to go 11-17 at the plate in two games of the Gainesville Regional.

“We just go into it as another game, just a regular season game,” Vasquez said. “We don’t put too much pressure on ourselves. We just have to go out there and have fun.”

RIVERA UPDATE: Mike Rivera took a fastball to the knee Friday at the plate and was held out on Saturday. The freshman took batting practice and looked normal doing it, but O’Sullivan didn’t want to risk throwing him into the game on Saturday and not being fully healthy.

Schwarz has caught Puk in his last five starts, so Rivera would have been the designated hitter. O’Sullivan wanted to get Ryan Larson some time in right field while keeping Vasquez’s bat in the lineup as designated hitter, so it just made sense to give Rivera the night off.

“He wanted to play,” O’Sullivan said. “I just felt like for us to keep advancing like we want to, we need him healthy as much as possible. If he played, he would’ve just DHed anyway. I wanted to get Larson out there and get some at-bats. Jeremy has been swinging the bat really well. I just thought it was smart to give him the night off. JJ was going to catch tonight anyway, he’s been catching A.J. all year.

“It wasn’t a very difficult decision. I know Mike wanted to play, but I think in the best interest of our club and the big picture, we needed to give him the night off.”

PITCHING DEPTH: Florida didn’t burn any of its best bullpen arms during Friday’s blowout. Kirby Snead and Taylor Lewis threw in relief to close out Saturday’s game, but Snead threw 24 pitches and Lewis threw 11. After the first two games, the Gators are in good shape with their pitching depth after Logan Shore and A.J. Puk had strong outings to open the Gainesville Regional.

Lewis and Snead will both be available for Sunday’s game.

“We’ve got plenty of arms left,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re in good shape for tomorrow.”

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