#1 Gators outlast #20 Owls 2-1

The No. 1 Florida baseball team earned its 24th consecutive win at home over the No. 18 FAU Owls on Tuesday night.

The final score was decided by the end of the second inning, with both teams going scoreless for the rest of the night. Freshman righty Jackson Kowar started the game after a rough outing against Missouri on Saturday. The Owls second baseman Stephen Kerr took the second pitch of the game to the left field bleachers for a leadoff home run off Kowar.

Owls’ right fielder Brett Lashley then came in to hit a single off Kowar in what looked to be the beginning of an eventful night, but a 4-6-3 double play and a strikeout ended the first half of the inning.

The bottom of the first and the top of the second inning went by quickly with each going three-up, three-down. 

It was freshmen Deacon Liput and Nelson Maldonado who brought the power bats into the second inning. With one out, Liput hit a double into the corner of left field. Maldonado then deceives the defense again with a shot into right field for a triple.

“I got a fast ball up and out when I jumped on and I got to third and I saw the ball behind me. So I took off to home. I was tired. I knew I was running kind of slow.” A throwing error from the second baseman to third would send Maldonado home. “Part of me was like, dang I’m tired, but I wanted to score.”

Good thing he did, because that run would go on to be the difference in the game.  The rest of the game was scoreless.

Kowar entered the fifth inning with five strikeouts already. After a walk and a hit batter, Frank Rubio came in to clean up with leadoff batter Kerr; who already had a home run in the night. Kerr grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Rubio said, “We talked about doing your job and picking up the next guy before. We try not to cash in each other’s runs. It happens but everybody takes pride in the bull pen and not cashing each other’s runs in, especially the starters.”

The Gators pitching staff would go on to finish the night with 11 strikeouts.

After the win, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said, “it was a really good effort on the mound tonight. It was important for us to get all those guys some work to get ready for the weekend. Offensively, we were held to just four hits. We weren’t very aggressive with the fastball tonight. It is my responsibility to get these guys ready to play and we just have to do a better job. We were very fortunate to win the ballgame. FAU’s pitchers did a nice job and we need to learn from it and get ready to play. We have some things to work on.” 

Junior Dane Dunning wasn’t in the plan to throw tonight, but a tight ball game forced Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan to bring in a quality arm.

“The value that he’s (Dunning) bringing to our staff, the flexibility that he’s able to start some games and come in some situations out of the bull pen. I’m really pleased with how he’s been throwing the ball.”

Florida will now get ready to travel to Kentucky for the first SEC road game.

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