Early runs spark Gators blowout of FSU

The Gators didn’t waste time erasing any doubt about Friday’s Super Regional opener against Florida State.

Florida scored four runs in a five-hit first inning before running away with a 13-5 win over the Seminoles (44-20) on Friday. The Gators (48-16) are now one win from returning to the College World Series for the first time since 2012.

“We had a really good approach against a really good pitcher,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Scoring four in the first loosened us up a little bit. I thought we had good at-bats the whole night.”

Game two is set for 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2. Florida will send left-hander A.J. Puk (9-3, 3.80 ERA) to face Florida State right-hander Mike Compton (4-3, 3.03).

Logan Shore posted a scoreless inning in the top of the first and the offense went to work.

Harrison Bader led off the game with an infield single and went to second when pitcher Boomer Biegalski threw the ball away. After Martin lined out to center field, Buddy Reed singled to put runners on the corners. Josh Tobias drove in the game’s first run with a single to center field before national co-Freshman of the Year J.J. Schwarz singled to left field to score another run.

After a two-out walk to Jeremy Vasquez to load the bases, Mike Rivera lined a single to right-center field to give the Gators a 4-0 lead.

“I felt the same as always, just wanted to get a good swing on it,” Rivera said. “He gave me something I could handle to get the RBIs in and start the game off.”

The scoring didn’t stop in the first. Florida scored in five of its eight innings at the plate, and the Gators scored multiple runs in four of those five. The Florida State defense made four errors, and all four Seminoles pitchers that allowed at least one run also allowed an unearned urn.

“It was just an old fashioned switching,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said. “They beat us in every phase. They obviously deserved to win. It was one of those that if anybody can think of something better or have an excuse to give me, fine. I don’t have any.”

While the Florida offense rolled, starting pitcher Logan Shore went 5.2 shutout innings, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out five batters. Shore was pulled with two runners on and two outs in the sixth. After Kirby Snead walked a batter on five pitches to load the bases, right-hander Taylor Lewis got out of the jam with a ground out.

Lewis threw the seventh inning and came out after 11 pitches, ensuring he is fresh for the rest of the weekend.

Lesser arms in the Florida bullpen -- Logan Browning and Frank Rubio -- allowed five runs over the final two innings before Shaun Anderson entered to finish the game. The Seminoles scored all five of their runs in the final two innings.

“Just got sloppy,” O’Sullivan said. “They’re young players. Maybe they lost focus, it was a long game. This time of the year, it’s about wins. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1-0 or 10-9. You’re just trying to get wins. There were so many positives, I don’t want to focus on a couple guys that didn’t have their best nights.”

The Gators are now one win away from returning to Omaha, their goal at the beginning of the season. O’Sullivan wasn’t sure how he would have to handle the team after Friday’s game, but they didn’t seem too happy with themselves. For a young team that started four freshmen on Friday, O’Sullivan saw a group that understood there was still work to be done.

“There wasn’t a lot of jumping around,” O’Sullivan said. “They handled it great. I was kind of impressed with how they were looking at me in the dugout after the game. They were all intent. We’ve talked all week about what’s at stake here. They were good, grounded. There wasn’t a lot of joking around. They were excited they won, but they were under control.”


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