(SPECIAL TO FIGHTIN’ GATORS)
Sophomore Jeremy Vasquez drove in a career-high three runs for the Gators (8-1), while sophomore left-hander Nick Horvath (1-0) earned his first win with a career-long stint of 2.2 innings in which he yielded one hit and one run. UF totaled 14 hits against six UCF pitchers, with sophomore Dalton Guthrie, freshman Jonathan India and junior Buddy Reed chipping in with three apiece. India (3-for-5) scored twice and connected on his first homer in the seventh inning.
Vasquez gave the visitors a quick 2-0 lead with a two-run double against sophomore Andrew Deramo (1-1) in the first inning. Guthrie (3-for-6) led off with a single up the middle before sophomore JJ Schwarz and junior Peter Alonso drew consecutive one-out walks. Vasquez’s third two-bagger of the campaign down the right-field line brought in Guthrie and Schwarz but Alonso was thrown out at the dish.
Vasquez expanded Florida’s margin to 3-0 in the third inning with a sacrifice fly that brought across Schwarz. Schwarz had drawn his second free pass of the night and had moved to third when Alonso’s grounder was misplayed.
UCF (6-3) answered with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the frame off of junior Dane Dunning. After the righty had retired the first seven batters of the contest, junior Kam Gellinger (2-for-3, three runs) singled up the middle and junior Luke Hamblin (3-for-3) bunted for a hit. Junior Brennan Bozeman rifled a double into right field to bring in Gellinger and Dunning caught junior Ryan Crile looking for his season-best fifth strikeout of the night. After sophomore Logan Heiser walked to load the bases, junior Austin Griffin knotted the game with a two-run single into center field.
Florida scored twice in the fourth to build a 5-3 advantage. Junior Ryan Larson walked and India executed a hit-and-run for Gators on the corners to prompt a pitching change with none out. Senior Harrison Hukari replaced Deramo (3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R) and Reed snapped the tie with a sacrifice squeeze bunt up the first-base line to score Larson. Schwarz then smashed a double to left field to plate India with the visitors’ fifth run.
The Gators used three doubles in the sixth against junior Juan Pimental to build a 7-3 lead. Guthrie started the frame with a double into left center and Reed drove in his teammate with a hot-shot double into right field. After Reed swiped his team-leading fifth base with one down, Alonso doubled to right center for a four-run cushion.
After India belted his first career homer with one down in the seventh to left field, the Knights pulled with 8-4 in the bottom of the stanza on an RBI grounder by Crile. The Gators added their final run when Larson’s two-out grounder in the eighth was misplayed, allowing Alonso to come across. Bozeman had a run-scoring grounder in the ninth to complete the scoring.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan
“I was pleased with Dane (Dunning) tonight, I think it was a step in the right direction and sometimes the line doesn’t always tell the whole story. I’m looking forward to getting him back out there again next week. I thought (Nick) Horvath and (Frank) Rubio did a really nice job out of the bullpen. Offensively, we were really good tonight – we had three guys with three hits apiece: (Dalton) Guthrie, (Buddy) Reed and (Jonathan) India. (Jeremy) Vasquez had a big double there in the first inning to drive in two runs. All in all, I was pleased with our effort tonight and defensively we didn’t make any errors. To go on the road and have no let-up tonight from the weekend was great and I thought the guys responded well.”
· Florida leads the series with UCF, 26-16, including 8-5 in Orlando.
· The Gators enjoyed a 14-7 advantage in hits tonight and totaled six doubles.
· The total of 14 hits was one shy of Florida’s season high.
· Jeremy Vasquez doubled his season RBI output with a two-run double in the opening inning and added a sacrifice fly in the third inning.
· Dane Dunning made his second start of the year and struck out six batters over 3.1 innings.
· Deacon Liput extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double in the fifth.
· Jonathan India delivered UF’s sixth homer of the season in the seventh and was a career-best 3-for-5.
· Nick Horvath provided 2.2 innings of relief and Frank Rubio finished up with three innings in which he yielded two hits and a run.
The Gators and Knights wrap up the series at McKethan Stadium tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Steve Russell and will be streamed on SEC Network+ with Jeff Cardozo and Nick Belmonte.