No. 1 Gators handle Jacksonville, 7-2

Freshman Nelson Maldonado drove in three runs and homered as No. 1 Florida defeated Jacksonville, 7-2, on Tuesday night. The Gators’ (28-3) collected their fifth straight win and also picked up their 28th consecutive triumph at McKethan Stadium in the first of two meetings with the Dolphins (17-11) this season. 

COURTESY OF UAA COMMUNICATIONS

Sophomore left-hander Scott Moss (1-0) tossed three scoreless and hitless innings with four strikeouts on a pitch count to collect his first career victory. UF’s offense totaled 12 hits for the fourth consecutive outing, with sophomore Dalton Guthrie, Maldonado, junior Buddy Reed and sophomore Jeremy Vasquez chipping in with two hits apiece.

The Gators seized a 2-0 lead in the second inning against freshman right-hander Kyle Arjona (2-1). Freshman Deacon Liput (1-for-3, two runs) led off with a double into the gap in right center and scored on sophomore Mike Rivera’s double to left field. A grounder by Vasquez (2-for-4) advanced Rivera to third and India drove in his teammate with a sacrifice fly into center field.

Florida added two more runs in the fourth off of freshman reliever Chris Gau. Liput started the frame with a walk and went to third when Vasquez singled through the right side on a hit-and-run with one down. Maldonado (2-for-3) singled into left field to bring home Liput and India followed with a double to left field that scored Vasquez. However, Maldonado was cut down at the plate on a great relay throw from Dolphins’ senior shortstop JJ Gould.

Jacksonville narrowed the gap to 4-1 in the seventh. Junior Seth DeWitt reached on a fielding error to start the inning, went to second on a base-hit into left by sophomore Sam Armstrong and both runners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from freshman Jackson Kowar. Freshman Franco Guardascione brought in DeWitt with an RBI grounder and Kowar caught freshman Dakota Julylia looking on strikes for the second out. Freshman Angel Camacho was hit by a pitch and senior pinch hitter Nate Ricci drew a walk to load the bases. Junior Dane Dunning replaced Kowar and had a fielder’s choice by senior Parker Perez force Ricci at second base after a diving stop by Guthrie and a flip to Liput.

Sophomore JJ Schwarz extended the Gators’ lead to 5-1 in the home part of the inning with a two-out RBI single into left field. Guthrie (2-for-5) had a one-out single off of senior Jeff Tanner and went to third on a failed pickoff attempt with two down, setting the stage for Schwarz’s base-knock.

Junior Austin Hayes (2-for-3) began the eighth with a double into right field, moved over on a grounder by Gould and came home on a single up the middle by DeWitt. Dunning gave up two hits and a run over 1.1 innings and junior Shaun Anderson closed the game with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth.

Postgame Quotes

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan

Opening Statement:

“We made a point of it before the game that this could be a game that we could be looking forward to the weekend. We needed to take care of our business. There were a lot of things that we needed to try to get accomplished tonight. One was to get Scott Moss back out on the mound and give him some run support. Michael Byrne needed to pitch a little bit. We needed to get these guys that have been throwing for us on a regular basis, an inning here and an inning there, so they would be fresh and ready to go by Friday of the Mississippi State series. I thought we swung the bat fine. Other than a couple of defensive miscues and a base-running blunder, it was a well-played game. We just made some defensive mistakes we usually don't make, and the base-running mistake was something we've got to continue to talk about and work on and just try to get better there."

On the bottom of the order (Jeremy Vasquez, Nelson Maldonado and Jonathan India), which combined for five of Florida's 12 hits:

"We're 31 games in now, and (coach) Brad (Weitzel) was talking to a few of the freshmen today that they've basically played a high school season. There are going to be weekends where they go 1-for-10 or 1-for-11, and they're going to have to respond the right way. They've all had a lot of bright moments, but at the end of the day, they're starting to enter into a part of the season where they haven't played this much baseball. It's a marathon, it's not a sprint, and I thought all of those guys took the message from Brad today very well. They put together some good at bats here."

Sophomore left-hander Scott Moss

On his first career win:

“It means a lot to me. I have worked hard to get this far. I have a great defense behind me that can make plays, and they helped me a lot tonight.”

On staying prepared for starts:

“It’s a lot of preparation. The entire week leading up, it’s been getting my body and mind ready for what I have to do that next week, whether it be coming out of the pen or getting into a start like this.”

Freshman left fielder Nelson Maldonado

On his confidence level:

“I am starting to feel confident. My weekend didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, but I stuck back to the cages and I got my timing and swing back.”

On Scott Moss’ earning his first career win:

“It is awesome. It is great to see him work hard. He comes out to the field every day. So, it was good to finally see him get his first win and work hard out there.”

Freshman third baseman Jonathan India

On the Gators’ totaling 12 hits in four straight games:

“We are executing what we have to do. We are out there having fun and putting some swings on the balls that should be a hit. We are staying mentally locked in during our bats and that’s why we are becoming successful.”

 

Postgame Notes

* The Gators increased their home winning streak to 28 games.

* Kevin O’Sullivan improved to 6-3 (.667) against Jacksonville, 5-2 (.714) in Gainesville.

* Florida improved to 52-31 all-time against JU.

* Scott Moss earned the first win of his career

* Deacon Liput scored multiple runs for the first time in his career

* Jonathan India’s second-inning sacrifice fly was his fourth of the season, tying him for the team-high with Dalton Guthrie and Peter Alonso.

* India also had multiple RBI (2) for the sixth time in his career.

* Four Gators picked up multi-hit games (Guthrie, Reed, Vasquez, Maldonado).

* Maldonado notched his fourth-career multi-RBI game, with three against the Dolphins.

* Maldonado also hit his fifth home run of the season in the eighth inning, placing him behind the six that Rivera and Alonso have hit.

* Buddy Reed snagged two consecutive bases in the fifth inning, pushing his season total to a team-high 16 this season.

* Liput was walked in the fourth inning, causing him to be the second player to reach the 20-walk mark this season (Schwarz, 25)

* India’s double in the fourth inning made him the sixth Gator to eclipse 30 hits this season.

* Guthrie scoring in the seventh inning tied him with Alonso and Schwarz for the team-high 26 runs scored this season.

 

UP NEXT

The Gators face No. 10 Mississippi State (21-8-1/6-3 SEC) in a weekend series that begins on Friday at 5:30 p.m. 

Parking for Friday’s Baseball Game (because of the Orange and Blue Debut)

* Flavet Field: Opens at 3 p.m.

* FREE Shuttle from the Commuter parking lot on Lemerand Drive - starts at 3:30 p.m. and has a stop near the RF gate at baseball (in front of the Lemerand Center). 

* Detailed parking related to the Orange & Blue Debut information can be found onFloridaGators.com

* The O’Connell Center parking garage is first-come, first-served, until full starting at 3:30 p.m. and fans must enter off of SW 2nd Avenue


Fightin Gators Top Stories