Peter Alonso (Kan Li / Scout)

Gators score late and win big over USF, 11-4

The Florida Gators finished a perfect 14-0 in mid-week games with an 11-4 win over South Florida (21-27) on Tuesday night. The Gators improved to 41-8 overall and 24-1 in non-conference play.

Things didn’t look promising for Florida as the Bulls came to the plate to start the game. The Bulls scored three runs on five hits in the first inning off of starter Scott Moss and most of the five seemed lucky at best. Moss would finish the inning and go 3.0 overall before being replaced by Frank Rubio.

"I thought Scott threw the ball fine,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game.  I don't think his line was indicative of how he threw the ball. Some unfortunate things happened there in the first, but I thought he battled. It's probably the best he's thrown all year. He didn't walk anybody and battled through some adversity."

The Gators would get two back in the bottom of the first with an RBI sacrifice fly by J.J. Schwarz scoring Dalton Guthrie and an RBI double by Pete Alonso scoring Jonathan India. Alonso would finish the night going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. He leads the team in batting average and RBI (47) for the season.

"I was just trying to keep everything simple,” Alonso said of his night.  “I wanted to see the ball up and not swing at anything too out of the zone. I wanted to have nice, short swings."

USF would maintain the lead through the fifth inning behind a nice pitching night from Michael Clarkson. The Gators managed just three hits through the fifth and heading into the sixth trailed 3-2. The Bulls would add a run in the top of the sixth and that would be the end of Rubio who went 2.1 and allowing three hits and one earned run.

The Gator pitching shit the Bulls down at that point as Dane Dunning came in for 2.1 innings. Kirby Snead came in for one out, and Shaun Anderson would finish off the game in a role he has settled into.

The Gators got a break in the bottom of the sixth when Buddy Reed lined a shot to left field that should have been caught but was missed. On the play Schwarz scored and the inning went on. Alonso would score on a fielder’s choice. Both Schwarz and Alonso were on base because of walks. Clarkson would finish the inning but gave up the two runs and he would be replaced by freshman Garrett Bye.

Bye would get worked by the Florida bats giving up four hits and four earned runs without getting an out and being replaced by ace closer Tyler Eveld who would go a complete inning, but give up two earned runs on one hit.

The Gators batted around in the seventh inning scoring six runs on five hits, two wild pitches, and a couple of Walks. Freshman Deacon Liput got the big hit of the inning and really the evening with a three RBI triple down the left field line.

Liput who started the season extremely hot from the plate has cooled of late and was excited about the hit.

"It felt really good, especially coming into a situation where we had runners in scoring position,” Liput said. “My coaches have been preaching to me to not try and do too much, so I didn't try to do too much."

The Gators have now tied their best regular season win record at 41. Florida has a three game series with Vanderbilt starting Friday and then another three game series with LSU the following weekend to conclude their regular season schedule.

With pitching limitations in college, it is pretty remarkable that Florida went undefeated in mid-week games which included several against ranked teams.

"We did talk about the possibility of going undefeated in midweek games,” O’Sullivan said. “It's extremely difficult to do because obviously you're playing quality opponents in-state. They get excited to play the Gators. To be able to play at a high level with playing such a difficult SEC slate and to come and bring your game every Tuesday and Wednesday -- it's remarkable. I told the guys that I really wanted to finish this thing off. It's one of those accomplishments that I can use as a teaching point moving forward. It is possible to win every midweek game if you bring your game all the time. It's a team victory. It's just a really, really good feeling to know that we're coaching a team that brought it every game. It's not easy to do."


The Gators return to action on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, when they open a three-game home stand against No. 7 Vanderbilt. Friday and Sunday's action will air live on SEC Network while game two of the series will be televised live on ESPN2. 

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