All-American starting pitcher Logan Shore (4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 K, 3 BB, 0 ER) had a productive evening, striking out five in just over four innings. Both the Aggies and Gators appeared to have the same strategy of extending at-bats to run the starter’s pitch count up early in the game. Each team succeeded with the Gators getting the better result, knocking starter Tyler Ivey (2-1, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB) out of the game after the freshman was able to record only four outs. The Gators took the lead in the second inning through a pair of RBI doubles from right fielder Jeremy Vasquez (1-3, 2 R) and third baseman Jonathan India (4-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI). Florida would extend the lead by one in both of the next two innings via a Pete Alonso (2-4, HR, RBI) homerun in the third and India’s second RBI double of the night in the forth.
Texas A&M loaded the bases in the fifth on singles from junior Ryne Birk, junior Boomer White and Hunter Melton with only one out. Kirby Snead (2-0) came on for Shore and kept the Aggies scoreless, masterfully pitching himself (and Shore) out of trouble and earning his second win of the year in the process.
Florida would then put the game out of reach in a three-run sixth that saw three hits, three walks, and three runners left on base. It was the third time in which the Gators stranded two or more runners on the evening, which added to the late drama. Freshman left fielder Nelson Maldonado (2-2, 2 BB) reached on all four at-bats on the night and was pivotal for the Florida offense, as he was involved in all run-producing innings (Alonso’s fifth homer of the season notwithstanding).
Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan thought the offense was on point tonight, singling out two additional freshman.
“"I thought we swung the bat very well. We got off to a good start with a very good defense. Pete (Alonso) and Deacon (Liput) both swung the bat well, and Jonathan India had a terrific night at the plate going 4-for-4.”
Texas A&M was able to manufacture a run in the seventh through two sacrifices. The Gators allowed their intensity to visibly drop in the ninth and the Aggies were able to make the final score line more respectable, shelling Frank Rubio for three runs. Junior Shaun Anderson (5 S) was able to record the save after Scott Moss relieved Rubio and issued a walk on four straight pitches. Center fielder Buddy Reed (2-5, 2B, RBI, SB) was impressed with the visitor’s fight, but was quick to point out that more is required from his team.
“Credit to Texas A&M for fighting all the way until the ninth inning. As a staff, we have to do a better job not letting those runs come across the plate.”
Coming on the heels of a lackluster performance in Lexington the previous weekend, it was imperative that the Gators reestablish their conference dominance against the team that benefitted in the ranking from their slip up. Although not as dominating as it could have been, the Gators kept the number one team in the country at bay for the majority of the night. The Aggies were unable to punish the Gators, who stranded eight batters on the evening. This proved to be decisive, as the Aggies left eleven runners on and Florida extended their home winning streak to a now school-record twenty-five games. These are the kinds of teams and performances O’Sullivan’s squad will become very familiar with if the Gators are to realize their lofty ambitions this season. It was summed up perfectly by O’Sullivan, who knows the value of getting a result from top competition.
“I don't think we played our best game, but this is a mark of a good team where we can beat a really good team and not play our best."
Game two against the #1 Aggies is tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m., with sophomore right-hander Alex Faedo (5-0, 2.70) facing senior right-hander Kyle Simonds (5-0, 2.83). The game will be aired on ESPNU and will be available via streaming on the WatchESPN app.