Nelson Maldonado photo by Paige Santiago / UAA Communications

Gators walk their way to sweep of Columbia

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With the help of 12 walks from Columbia’s pitching staff, Florida recorded its third weekend sweep of the 2017 season, defeating the Lions 8-4 on Sunday at McKethan Stadium.

COURTESY OF UAA COMMUNICATIONS

It was the most walks in a game by UF batters since Feb. 27, 2008 against Eastern Michigan when the Gators also recorded 12 walks. In the three-game series, UF totaled 26 walks – its most since racking up 27 against Cincinnati in the 2006 season-opening series.

Florida has swept each of its first three series for the first time since 2011.

Both Florida’s and Columbia’s bats were quiet early with tough wind conditions. Starting pitchers Jackson Kowar and Ty Wiest both started the game without allowing a hit through three innings. Kowar proved to be more efficient through the first three frames, totaling just 25 pitches to Wiest’s 51.

Columbia ended up on the board first in the fourth inning. Julian Bury led off with a double and Kyle Bartelman gave the Lions a 1-0 lead, bringing Bury home with a two-out RBI single.

Florida responded in a big way in the sixth inning. JJ Schwarz, who would later return to the plate in the same frame, led off with his third walk of the day. Keenan Bell followed with a single to right field, and Mike Rivera’s grounder advanced Bell to second base and Schwarz came in to score.

Nelson Maldonado brought in Bell with a double to center field to put Florida up 2-1.

The Gators then drew four-straight, two-out walks to score two more runs, extending their lead to 4-1.

Columbia answered in the seventh inning with a two-run homer from AJ DiFillipo, cutting the Florida lead to 4-3.

UF broke open the game with another four runs in the seventh inning. Bell started with a double to right field and Mike Rivera bunted to move pinch runner Deacon Liput to second. After three more walks, two wild pitches and a hit-by-pitch, Florida scored two more runs and still had the bases loaded with a 6-3 lead.

Jonathan India capped Florida’s scoring at eight runs with a two-RBI double to plate Dalton Guthrie and Blake Reese.

Columbia added a final run off an RBI single in the eighth inning to trail 8-4.

The Lions, who sent out five pitchers today, combined for three wild pitches and two hit-by-pitches along with 12 walks.

Kowar recorded his third win, allowing five hits and three earned runs while striking out four in seven innings.

Florida will next face Florida Gulf Coast in a two-game, home-and-home series starting at FGCU on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

 

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan Quotes…

“It was a tough day to hit. I thought we swung the bats pretty good, just anything hit in the air to left or center was an out because the wind was blowing so much. I wasn’t disappointed in their bats, we hit some balls hard. It was just one of those days where if the ball was in the air it was going to be an out.

“I think [Nelson Maldonado] played really, really well yesterday and today. I thought Keenan Bell had a really good day. After his first couple of at bats, they may not have been what he wanted, but he showed a little bit of maturity and hung in there and had two really good at bats after that. I thought we got some good contributions from a lot of people. Garrett Milchin had a really good at bat there at the end. And it was good to see Deacon square up a ball there late.

“I think all in all, it was a very good day offensively, the first four-five innings was not easy because of the way the wind was blowing. I thought Jackson threw the ball well. I really, really like what I’m seeing out of Tyler Dyson. He might end up being that guy at the end of the ball game, kind of groom him and bring him along. We’ve got to run him out there a little bit more, he’s got a great arm.”

 


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