Pete Alonso: “See ball, hit ball”

The Florida Gators are heading to the College World Series this weekend and a big part of that is due to the hitting tear junior first baseman Pete Alonso is on. Alonso missed almost a month of baseball with a hand injury before returning in the NCAA Regional two weekends ago and although he was leading the Gators in all the hitting categories before then, his numbers since his return border on the ridiculous.

 In the last six games against Bethune-Cookman, UConn, Georgia Tech and three against Florida State, Alonso has come back from injury and batted 13-for-25 (.520) with 10 RBI, four home runs, and two doubles. Just plain remarkable numbers especially when you are talking about NCAA Tournament competition.

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan hasn’t seen much like it in his time as a skipper. He looks at the plate when Alonso is up and believes he is going to hit one out every time he swings.

"We've had Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino and some really good hitters here, and there's stretches that you go, it's like you think he's gonna hit a home run every time he comes to the plate,” O’Sullivan said in disbelief. “That's how I feel about Pete right now, it's crazy. And that's the thing about recruiting too, when you go recruiting and a guy gets in the batter’s box and everybody kind of gets quiet, everybody kind of pays attention, the guy can hit. I think that's what it is with Pete right now. Every time he comes to the plate, it's like everybody in the dugout gets quiet, everybody in the stands is kind of watching… it's just unexplainable. I honestly feel like every time he comes to the plate he's gonna hit a home run. It's remarkable. It's a great story to come back and swing the bat like he has."

His teammates are amazed as well. SEC Pitcher of the Year and NCAA Pitcher of the Year candidate Logan Shore isn’t sure what pitches can do to stop him.

“Right now, I’d probably walk him,” the All-American said when asked how he would go after Alonso at the plate. “That would probably be the best option. That’s what I would do right now.”

“The kid is on fire. Even the times he gets out, they are scorching line drives. I know how he’s doing it, he’s a tremendous baseball player, but to come back from a hand injury like that, having 96 come off his hand, that’s something that’s tough to come back from and I know he’s doing everything he can to get back. That just shows what kind of teammate he is and how much he wants to win it. We’re going to need him down the stretch and I know he’s ready to go.”

In fact, O’Sullivan made a big deal about how much work and effort Alonso went into coming back from injury so quickly. A guy that was drafted on the first day of the Major League baseball Draft could have just skipped the rest of the season and made sure his hand was healed completely instead. He’s the consummate team player.

“Coming off an injury I’m just really happy I’m out there,” the selfless Alonso said. “The opportunity we have I just have to take advantage of the time I have. I guess it is stolen time because if it’s broken a different way then I’m in a cast right now. The way that it broke it gave me a chance to play and get back quick. It’s awesome. I’m extremely lucky. With the break, I did all I could with the rehab and now I’m making the most of it and trying to get this team a ring.”

The only physical difference you will notice from Alonso is that he has decided to let his beard grow out while he continues to do well and the team continues to win. He’s a man of routine as are most baseball players.

“Well I’ve got the beard going,” he said. “I’m gonna leave the beard, the playoff beard. I keep the same routine in the box, just keeping my approach simple at the plate. I don’t know… it seems too simple. It’s just see ball, hit ball… just letting it ride and having fun.”

And he’s helped carry the offense through the home stands of the NCAA Tournament so far.

The Gators play Coastal Carolina Sunday June 19, at 8 p.m. ET in Omaha Nebraska in their opening game of the College World Series.

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