Center fielder Buddy Reed (2-4, 2 R) got the evening started with what was likely a mis-hit bunt that had the trajectory of a pop up. No matter, as its unusual placement and Reed’s speed allowed him to reach first safely. The preseason All-American wasted little time in recording his 21st stolen base of the season. His presence clearly affected Wildcats starter German Hernandez (L 4-4, 4.57), who issued a balk before his next pitch. Catcher J.J. Schwarz (2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR) put the Gators on the board with a single in the next at-bat, hopefully ending a dreadful spell for the junior.
The damage was done in the second, with left fielder Nelson Maldonado (1-3, 3 RBI) bringing home both right fielder Jeremy Vasquez (1-3, 2B) and designated hitter Mike Rivera (2-4, R, 2B) with his sixth home run of the campaign. The Wildcat’s calamitous defense would cost them a further two runs, delivered via a Pete Alonso (1-4, 2 RBI) double. Hernandez (IP 6.0, 9 H, 7 R, 4 ER, K, BB) would remain in the game for an additional four innings that were largely uneventful until Schwarz crushed a fastball over the left field bleachers in the six inning, providing the home team with the final of their seven runs.
Starter Scott Moss (W 2-0, 0.68) pitched the first three innings of what was an impressive effort from the home team on the mound and in the field. Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan relayed his thoughts on the performance, singling out shortstop Dalton Guthrie’s (0-5) major-league-worthy play in the ninth as a reason you leave a player of his defensive prowess in despite a tough night at the plate.
"Dalton didn't have the night he wanted offensively, and for him to make that play there in the ninth -- that's an unbelievable play. The ability to stay in the game and be able to not take your bat out on defense is what makes really good players. Most players will hang their heads, not be into it and not be as focused. I thought (Jonathan) India was really good defensively tonight. I really thought he had some good reads. He read some hops really well over there and played really good defense."
A six-man effort saw the Gators allow only two hits in an overpowering performance from the staff on the night. First baseman Danny Rodriguez’s 16th home run of the season (from a Frank Rubio’s hanger) aside, it was exactly what you would expected against a team from the MEAC. O’Sullivan was pleased with not only the effort, but also getting many of his arms much needed work with a divisional opponent looming.
The pitching was outstanding tonight, and it's good to get all those guys out there who needed a little work before we head to Knoxville. Overall, it was a good game."
As Coach alluded to, the #1 ranked Gators are in action next in Knoxville on Friday for game one of a three (hopefully) game set, with a 6pm start time expected for the opener.